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Issue 24

Play for Wales Play news & briefing from the national organisation for play

Spring 2008

Play and participation


Play for Wales Issue 24 SPRING 2008 EDITORIAL





Conference Coup for Wales


Standards for Play Opportunities in Wales 3 New council to restore spirit of adventure


Possible Futures for Playwork


Getting it Right Legally – for free


Playwords – free


Play Wales membership renewal




Seasonal Schemes and CSSIW


Proposed Vulnerable Children (LCO) Committee Report


Child’s Play – Round Two


Play and Participation


National Standards for Children and Young People’s Participation




Why do people’s ages go up not down?


Participation and Playwork


Participation – Play in Schools


An Interview with the new Children’s Commissioner


Play: the most neglected right


Playwork Wales


P3 Training – the impact


Events and Funding


Play for Wales is published by Play Wales four times a year. Contact the Editor at: Play Wales, Baltic House, Mount Stuart Square, Cardiff CF10 5FH Telephone: 029 2048 6050 E-mail: Registered Charity No. 1068926 ISSN: 1755 9243 The views expressed in this newsletter are not necessarily those of Play Wales. We reserve the right to edit for publication. We do not endorse any of the products or events advertised in or with this publication. This publication is printed on paper produced from sustainable forests. Designed and printed by Carrick Business Services Ltd. Tel: 01443 843 520 E-mail:

Editorial In our last issue we announced the allocation of BIG Lottery Child’s Play programme round one funding for nine regional play infrastructure building projects around Wales*. As a result new play associations are being formed and some existing ones are being strengthened, or are extending their remit to cover neighbouring local authority areas. This is a huge achievement for Wales, where up until now the infrastructure for play provision development has been inconsistent – where some areas had the benefit of strong and active local associations and others struggled. Some of the changes made possible by the new funding may take time to bed in but it is worth keeping an eye out for developments in your region so that you can get involved now, or when the appropriate time comes. One of the really heartening aspects of the new infrastructure projects is that they are all built on voluntary/local authority sector partnership, so that we in Wales can develop existing relationships and forge new ones in a joined up approach that makes the most effective use of creativity, energy and material and human resources. This can only benefit children and the children’s play sector in Wales. We hope that another key benefit will be a concerted approach across the nation to achieving the ambitions of the Welsh Assembly Government Play Policy. The deadline for round two of the Child’s Play programme is March 2009 – only a year away. This summer is the time to find out how existing play projects, or ideas to set up new play projects, might benefit from round two funding, and to get an idea how these projects might fit into the bigger picture regionally (please see the Child’s Play item in our news section for more information). This is a time when local authority and voluntary sector partners will be reviewing existing provision, identifying gaps, and working out what might be needed in the future to support the aims of the Play Policy or local play strategies. Whilst we would all agree that not enough is spent on children’s play, the first thing to do when new money becomes available (before we create a wish list) is to look at whether what we

already spend meets strategic aims and provides value for money. If this principle is followed, combining new money with a realignment of existing spending could have a significant impact on play provision and enhance the work made possible by BIG Lottery Child’s Play funding. We anticipate that the infrastructure projects will be well placed to respond to the children’s participation agenda that we are highlighting in this issue. The latest Funky Dragon (Wales’ children’s parliament) report highlights just how important play is to children – as one of the contributors to this magazine says, children themselves are the only people who can truly know what it is like to be a child in our times. It is vital that children participate in decision making about their play provision – in a sustainable way, where their opinions and their efforts are valued and taken on board day to day, month to month, year to year. On another celebratory note, we were delighted to come home from an intense week at the International Play Association conference in Hong Kong with the news of our success in bidding to hold the 50th anniversary international conference in Wales in 2011. Ten years ago this would not have been possible and was beyond our wildest dreams, so it is a measure of how far the Welsh (and UK) play sector has come in the last decade that we are confident that we are all strong enough to organise a big international gathering and that there will be plenty to show to delegates who come from abroad. The support for our bid and the offers of help we have received from within Wales and around the UK have been overwhelming and positive. Thank you to everyone. We all have something to aim towards and to look forward to - the really hard work starts here, and we will keep you posted on developments!

Mike Greenaway Director, Play Wales * Play Wales’ Development Team supported the successful applicants with their bids, but Play Wales was not involved in any way in making recommendations to BIG, or scrutinising/assessing the bids, or deciding on the allocation of funds.

A heartfelt thank you to everyone who contributed to this magazine – we couldn’t do it without you. This issue of Play for Wales, as well as previous issues, is available to download from our website news section at

Play for Wales Issue 24 SPRING 2008 NEWS


Conference Coup for Wales – I’ll Be There Last year there was a call for bids to host the 2011 International Play Association (IPA) world conference on its 50th anniversary.


ere at Play Wales we thought long and hard and then decided that if we made a bid and won, it would provide an opportunity to showcase all the hard work on play provision, research and policy-making that is going on in Wales and around the UK, as well as providing a morale boost and a goal to aim for. We gathered the support of colleague organisations and universities and we went to the IPA conference in Hong Kong early this year to work hard to bring this prestigious conference home to Wales.

the next three years. We already have a bank of ideas and enthusiasm, but we will be looking for others to join in and make this the most memorable conference the IPA has ever held – something of which Wales can be truly proud. Two thousand and eleven is not so far away and before we know it we’ll be looking for people to help promote the event by saying ‘I’ll be there.’

After a tense and intense five days, we won! Mike Greenaway, Play Wales Director said: ‘We have been overwhelmed by the enthusiastic support we have had from colleagues in the UK and abroad. This event will be a superb opportunity to make international contacts, and to learn from the research and practice of other countries.’

It is important to us that this conference includes people who might ordinarily be unable to access such an event. We are urging organisations and individuals in the UK to raise funds to sponsor delegates who might struggle to finance airfares and accommodation, and some play associations and groups in Wales and England have already made a commitment to this. If you feel that over the next three years you can raise money to help support a delegate please get in touch.

So, as this magazine goes to press we are starting to plot a timeline and to look at managing this huge project over

To get involved or to find out more, please contact Gill Evans on 029 2048 6050 or email

New council to restore Standards for Play Opportunities in Wales spirit of adventure In our last issue we reported on the Welsh Assembly Government’s decision to contract a consultancy firm, York Consulting, to develop standards and guidance for Local Authorities on how to provide play opportunities in Wales. The Welsh Assembly Government has convened an advisory group to bring together a range of expertise to “work with York Consulting in developing this work”. The advisory group meets as we go to press, and we will keep our readers informed of developments. it’s the place to be if you’re interested in play in Wales

news – events – information - jobs

he Risk and Regulation Advisory Council (RRAC) is a new advisory group charged by the Prime Minister with working with Ministers and senior civil servants to develop a better understanding of public risk, and how best to respond to it, through a series of workshops which consider both good and poor practice, and working with external stakeholders to help foster a more considered approach to public risk and policy making.


Rick Haythornthwaite, the head of the council, says: ‘If you ask someone, “Do you want the world to be safer place?” of course they will say yes - but there is always a trade-off. Self-reliance and a sense of adventure are important national characteristics that could be lost.’


Play for Wales Issue 24 SPRING 2008 NEWS

Possible Futures Getting it Right Legally – for free for Playwork Possible Futures for Playwork is a partnership project designed to provide a platform for creative discussion and debate for playworkers.

We have a limited amount of Getting it Right Legally: Legal Status and Structure for Play and Childcare Organisations to distribute for free.

lay England is sponsoring and managing this project in collaboration with SkillsActive, the Joint National Committee for Training in Playwork (JNCTP), Play Wales, Play Board Northern Ireland and Play Scotland.

This guide has been produced by Clybiau Plant Cymru Kids Clubs, Playwork Partnerships and the University of Gloucester as part of the work of the CWLWM (Childcare Wales Learning and Working Mutually) partnership.


The Possible Futures for Playwork Project includes papers, discussion and will culminate in a large event in June 2008. For more information please contact the project coordinator, Perry Else:

Playwords – free Common Threads have announced that Playwords magazine will be available free to everyone. To receive a free downloadable copy please register on their website The subscription fee for the paper copy has also been waived, meaning that all you pay is the postage and packing charge (£12 per year).

Play Wales membership renewal Join us – it’s not too late to become a member of Play Wales for 2008. Benfits include: reduced conference and seminar fees; free Criminal Records Bureau checks for staff working in regulated provision; e-bulletins with consultation, funding and events news, and reduced rates for publications. Rates: Individual: £10 Organisations - one full-time member of staff or less: £25 International: £25 Organisations - more than one full-time member of staff: £50 Commercial/private: £75 Local Authority: £100 For more information and to join visit: or contact Helen on 029 2048 6050 or email

The pack is particularly useful to voluntary organisations because it provides ‘legal guidance to help navigate successfully through the potential minefield of setting up a community childcare or play facility’. If you would like a free copy please contact Kate on 029 2048 6050 or email

Database Play for Wales is available free to all those living or working in Wales who have an interest in children and young people’s play. If you live and work outside of Wales and you would like to receive Play for Wales as an electronic download we can add you to our email list. If you live or work in Wales and would prefer to receive Play for Wales as an electronic download please tell us. Telephone Kate on 029 2048 6050 or drop us a line at

Play for Wales Issue 24 SPRING 2008 NEWS


Seasonal Schemes and CSSIW The frequency of inspections for all daycare provision (except full daycare) will now be every two years, effective from 1 April 2008. Decisions as to which schemes and projects will be inspected during 2008 will be made by CSSIW at a regional level. s part of the Childminding and Day Care (Wales) Regulations, registered providers need to complete an annual review of the quality of care they provide.


Following the review, providers must make a report of it and to support registered providers to meet this regulation the Care and Social Services Inspectorate for Wales (CSSIW) are creating a form for completion. It will be part of preinspection forms but CSSIW may also request this report

form in a non-inspection year. CSSIW will be informing all providers about these changes during March 2008. We have been advised that all those play providers running summer play schemes that require registration, need to contact their regional office of CSSIW by 30 May 2008. For more information please go to

Proposed Vulnerable Chidren Legislative Competence Order (LCO) Committee Report A Legislative Competence Order (LCO) describes an area in which the National Assembly for Wales is competent to make legislation – the implication being that it will be able to turn this into law for Wales in future. This LCO relates to Social Welfare - Vulnerable Children and Child Poverty. Play Wales strongly advocated the inclusion of the word ‘play’ within the interpretation of ‘well-being’, which

currently relates to ‘education, training and recreation’ – and our call was heard and acted upon. It may seem strange to celebrate the inclusion of one word in potential legislation, but play is so often overlooked as being a vital part of children’s lives that to find it included in the LCO meant we jumped up and down hooping with joy in our office. For more information regarding the LCO please visit

Child’s Play - Round Two The deadline for round two of the Child’s Play programme is March 2009 – only a year away. Over this summer is the time to find out how existing play projects, or ideas to set up a new play project, might benefit from round two funding, and to look at how this might fit into the bigger picture. To find out more about round two of the Child’s Play programme please go to BIG Lottery website at

Correction Play for Wales newsletter, issue 23 (Winter 2007) Correction to 'B*lls to Blame and Claim Culture' article - page nine

To find out how local play projects can benefit from the recent infrastructure investment or to express an interest in round two funding please contact our Development Team at Play Wales is contracted to BIG to support applicants to make appropriate applications that meet the criteria for the Child’s Play programme, we are not involved in making recommendations to BIG, or scrutinising/assessing the bids, or deciding on the allocation of funds.

The article states: "The family backed down, and all the Network has to do now is to keep all the documentation of the injury until the boy is 18, in case he decides to claim on his own behalf as an adult." This should be "until the boy is 21". Due to a statute of limitation a person can make a personal injury claim up to three years from the date of their 18th birthday.



Play and Participation The children of Wales have a right to take part in decision making processes that affect them. They also have a huge interest in playing – in having time to play and quality places and freedom to play in their own way. We know this because play comes high up on children’s list in one way or another every time we ask them what is important to them. The latest Funky Dragon report* from 2,500 children aged between seven and ten is a clear example of this – the whole document calls for us to take their play needs seriously. o play is children’s priority – their agenda. When we support their right to play, we support their agenda; we collaborate with them and this implies that we work alongside them – we offer ideas, we support their ideas, we have a common goal.


The Welsh national Play Policy and the Playwork Principles define play as freely chosen and personally directed by those who are playing – quality playworkers intervene in children’s play with sensitivity using continuous risk/benefit evaluation to make sure that they adulterate as little as possible. If those of us who have an interest in children’s

play are to take a participative approach we need to be aware of how we might adulterate play (and children’s participation in decisions related to one of the aspects of their lives that is most important to them) through our attitude and belief system, the decisions we make, and the actions we take. The UK Government ratified the United Nations Convention on the Rights of the Child (UNCRC) soon after it was adopted by the UN in 1989 – it is part of a range of Government commitments to human rights. Since then the National Assembly of Wales has based its

Play for Wales Issue 24 SPRING 2008 PARTICIPATION work with and for children on the rights stated in the UNCRC. Article 31 of the Convention, stating children’s right to play, is a well-known mantra to many of us who provide or campaign for children’s right to play, Article 12, which relates to children’s right to participate in decision making, may be less familiar.

Article 12 1. States Parties shall assure to the child who is capable of forming his or her own views the right to express those views freely in all matters affecting the child, the views of the child being given due weight in accordance with the age and maturity of the child. Given that play is so important to all children, we need to be careful that any participation they have in decision making is meaningful and does not unnecessarily curtail their time and freedom to play. We can do this by: • making sure we take a considered approach – that we are asking the right questions and that children can make informed choices, for instance, we cannot make a choice between a trip to the seaside and a day in a forest if we have no idea what either experience offers, we can’t choose how to equip a new playground if our only experience is swings and slides. This is particularly important for some groups of children: they can be left out of decision making processes because traditionally others may have made decisions for them – they may not have experience of making choices; because it may take more time and effort to find out their opinions; or because they have a narrow range of experiences • sensitively observing how they behave, where and how they choose to play, how they use the environment where they are playing, listening and using our knowledge of play theory and our experience to reflect on what they might want or need to enhance their play – because they have shown us what they want – they didn’t need to go through the effort of filling in a form, or sticking a red dot on a chart, or even coming to tell us, and their play isn’t interrupted at all • respecting children’s judgment. When children participate in decision making processes, we make sure that we respect their contribution, act upon it and feedback to them. The decisions that children are involved in need not be ‘easy’ or ‘trivial’ – they can do more than choosing the flavour of squash on offer - there are some play settings in Wales where


children are meaningfully involved in selecting playworkers for employment. If we show children that their contribution is valued they are far more likely to want to contribute to their own community now and to be part of democratic processes in the future • sticking to our principles - the Playwork Principles say that the role of the playworker is to support all children in the creation of a space in which they can play. This statement implies participation – it is about all children being supported to plan, negotiate and resource their play and to make decisions for themselves about their play environment NB We would expand this to cover any form of provision for children’s play – it doesn’t simply apply to playworkers. If children are meaningfully involved in, for instance, the siting and equipping of a local play area we are likely to see better usage rates and more care taken of the equipment • supporting children to feel comfortable and confident in being honest; being aware that many children like to please adults – they might make decisions based on what they think we want them to say. This means having a relaxed and “equal” relationship – simply because we are older than children does not mean we are more important than they are, and none of us who are adults can truly understand what it is like to be a child in today’s world better than children themselves • using participation as a foundation of our work – true participation is an ongoing process, it is sustained rather than a “one off”, it needs to be part of the whole ethos of the service we provide There are children and young people’s participation standards for Wales and a set of eight Blast Off guides to good practice that can be downloaded at The Children’s Play Information Service (CPIS) has a briefing sheet, Consulting Children About Play. Download at or contact CPIS at or telephone 020 7843 6303. A Beginners Guide to Participation is to be published soon. Go to for more information.

Find out more about children’s rights from the Children’s Rights Information Network at *Why do People’s Ages Go Up … launched November 2007 - see later in this section.


Play for Wales Issue 24 SPRING 2008 PARTICIPATION

National Standards for Children and Young People’s Participation The Children and Young People’s Participation Consortium and the Participation Unit (based at Save the Children) work to increase the participation of children and young people (0-25 years) in decision-making in Wales. Anna Skeels (the Participation Unit Manager) tells us more:

Our ultimate aim is to work towards the implementation of the National Children and Young People’s Participation Standards across Wales. The first step is to raise awareness of the Standards and to encourage organisations to use them for self-assessment by using a pack that we have developed. The Participation Unit has used the self-assessment pack itself and has been inspected against these Standards by a team of young people who have been trained to be young inspectors.


The next step which we are currently working on is to run a two-year pilot, funded by the ‘Making the Connections Fund’ to explore how a national system for measuring against the National Standards would work.

The National Standards are standards which children and young people can expect to be met when they are asked to participate.

We are looking for organisations and projects across Wales to work in partnership with us to develop this work. We are very keen to pilot the work with groups of younger children and to draw out the methodologies, materials and processes that would be suitable for introducing the National Standards to under 10s.

ogether we have developed National Standards for Children and Young People’s Participation which have been endorsed both by the Welsh Assembly Government and by Funky Dragon (the Children and Young People’s National Assembly for Wales).

There are seven Standards: Information; It’s Your Choice; No Discrimination; Respect; You Get Something Out Of It; Feedback; Improving How We Work. The aim of the Standards is to make sure that children and young people have a positive and meaningful experience of participation.

Participation Unit: 029 2039 6838 E-mail: Website:

Participation and the Welsh Assembly Government The aim of the Participation Project within the Welsh Assembly Government (WAG) is to mainstream children and young people’s participation into all relevant areas of work across six ‘themed’ areas within the WAG including recruitment, producing documents, and consultation. We also provide advice and support to all WAG departments. he participation team work with officials in different policy areas who act as a Divisional Link Officer (DLO) for children and young people’s participation, so that children and young people can be involved in policy development and consultation processes from the beginning.


The European funded (ESF) project called ‘Your Voice Your Choice’ has also been in existence since 2005 and aims to involve more young people aged 11-25 in decision making on services that directly affect them.

Local Participation Strategy (LPS) Guidance has been developed in collaboration with national and local partner organisations and with children and young people, in direct response to concerns expressed by young people from Funky Dragon. It is a key piece of the infrastructure jigsaw designed to support and drive forward children and young people’s participation in Wales. The guidance aims to ensure that all children and young people aged 0-25 have opportunities to contribute to and have their voices heard in decision making on issues which impact on their lives at local level. The guidance was issued in August 2007. Most importantly, the LPS Guidance expects local Children and Young People’s Partnerships to establish sustainable mechanisms to support children and young people’s participation across all partner organisations locally. Pupil Participation - School Councils - primary pupils across Wales are having a say and taking part in decision-making about things that affect them in school. Many school councils help to make playtimes better for pupils by improving the facilities on the playgrounds. Some examples of pupils’ achievements can be found on the School Councils Wales website:

Play for Wales Issue 24 SPRING 2008 PARTICIPATION


Why do people’s ages go up not down? In May 2008 young people from Funky Dragon (The Children and Young People’s Assembly for Wales) will present their report entitled Why do people’s ages go up not down? to the United Nations Committee on the Rights of the Child.

uring 2007 over 2,500 children between seven and ten years old were asked for their opinions on education, health, participation and information. The question we wanted to answer was “to what extent are children aged seven to ten in Wales able to access their rights (as defined by the United Nations Convention on the Rights of the Child – UNCRC)”.


Children brought up the importance of play throughout the research; so much so that they related each theme to how much it helped or hindered their play. For example, some children said they felt intimidated in their local area by anti social behavior, others said they were sometimes unable to play in their local park because it proved unsafe due to hazards such as broken glass or litter.

“I have a park but it’s full of druggies and would like it to be cleared up and used properly.” “More things to do like! More parks, more fun centres. And trampolening (sic) for people that have not got any trampolines”. “I would like to change the park and put in a roundabout, big swings, better apparatus, more bins and a see saw.”

Ultimately what the children wanted was somewhere good to play. It was clear that for some children this is not a reality. The report also highlights the importance of consulting with children. It became obvious that children under 11 are capable of understanding their place in, and contribution to, society. They also appreciate what their rights are and how to make realistic decisions on what can be done to improve their lives. Given the opportunity children are capable of giving their opinions and only they know what it’s like being a child in today’s society. Why is the report called Why do ages go up not down? In information workshops children were asked to come up with questions they would like answers to. We weren’t able to come up with an answer to this one, but we thought the question was so good that we had to use it somewhere! Andrea Burch, South Wales Children’s Project Worker (contact 01792 450000) To download the full report please visit:


Play for Wales Issue 24 SPRING 2008 PARTICIPATION

Participation Roger Hart is one of the world’s most respected writers and researchers into children’s participation – you may have heard of Hart’s Ladder of Participation. He is British, but lives and works in New York where he is the Director of the Children’s Environments Research Group. Our North Wales Development Officer, Martin King-Sheard, spoke to him at the Play Rangers conference in Torquay last November. Martin: It’s clear you’re very passionate about playwork as a profession, can you tell us a bit more about that and why?

a way playwork is the last profession that needs to be educated regarding the style of engagement with children.

Roger: Absolutely. I have had the privilege of travelling around the world to meet people who work on children’s rights. The first booklet I wrote for UNICEF on children’s participation required that I visit some countries to broaden my understanding of children’s participation. I went to the nations that were the most exciting at the time of the early 90s when the United Nations Convention on the Rights of the Child (UNCRC) came out – Brazil and the Philippines. These two countries were just coming out of dictatorships and making democracies, both of them have incorporated the Convention in their constitutions - which has had a radical impact on children.

I wouldn’t want to push playworkers in the direction of consultation because consultation is a very weak form of participation, but it is the way most of the UK has responded to the participation articles of the UNCRC. Consultation is low down on what I call the ladder of participation and that’s because ideally we need to have sustained engagement with children. They also need to know that we have listened to them and they want to hear back from us, and often this doesn’t happen with consultation.

So, in those countries I learnt from listening to street workers who are the people who work with street children, prostitute girls and kids who are lost from their families in one way or another. They worked with the poor in highly empowering ways, deeply democratic, and those street workers then went to the Philippines to share their knowledge with other street workers. Meanwhile, I had already visited the adventure playgrounds in London in the 70s and 80s because of the work I was doing on children’s play and environment design, and I met playworkers and realised these guys are just the same as street workers: playworkers work horizontally [collaboratively] with children (rather than from a position of power). I don’t know of other professions that do that. Social work, and youth work are generally supposed to do that but they often have this double problem of being

the ones that are adjudicating children; they have a power relationship to the Government. Playworkers and street workers empower children in ways that I find fascinating, so I became a passionate advocate for playwork in the USA. These last two years I have made major breakthroughs in influencing people in New York City, so now we see playwork developing in New York and I walk around feeling very chuffed about that.

The way that I have seen playworkers work with children is continuously participatory. I would like to see the profession continue to do that. That doesn’t mean that I think it can’t benefit also from being self critical and moving even further forward, and I do have one suggestion on that, if you have the time to hear it. Martin: Absolutely.

Martin: You have talked about playworkers working horizontally with children and young people. Can you tell us a bit more about where you feel the role of the playworker sits within consultation and participation?

Roger: One potential area for development in playwork, is enabling children and young people to engage better with one another. Not directing that engagement, but rather, being a good role model in the way they interact.

Roger: Sure, I think without knowing it, playworkers have always been children’s rights workers, they have been children’s rights advocates. Somehow in the genesis of the profession they incorporated the major principles of children’s rights - which are those articles of the UNCRC on giving children the right to have a voice. Quality playworkers have always done that. So, in

I feel a need for new kinds of social structures for children. I feel that there are a lot of things that have changed, not only has children’s free time changed and kids go to more programmed activities, but if you remember kids used to belong to a lot of membership organisations – the Cubs, the Scouts, the Boys Brigade. All over the industrialised

Play for Wales Issue 24 SPRING 2008 PARTICIPATION


and Playwork world membership in them has deteriorated enormously since the Second World War. I wouldn’t want to bring them back, but I would like to see something replace them that is a democratic version of what they were. When I was in the Scouts in Britain we used to go off – when I was 12 or 13 we would cycle about 10 miles every weekend to set up camp, with no Scout Master, and we were running our own programme - it was probably illegal. The thing is, that kind of opportunity should exist for children today. They need capacity and licence to self organise. Too much of what I am hearing about in playwork depends on the presence of the playworker all the time – we have to go beyond that, that’s not good enough. We have to get to the point where kids become really sophisticated at running their own groups. That may sound ambitious, it’s not. The only reason we don’t do it in the United Kingdom and most of the industrialised world is because we are frightened of children. We daren’t let them do it. You know, I just met kids this morning at this conference, they were a play ranger group and they were showing us how to play. I said to them, “Do you do this with other kids?” and they said, “Yeah, we show the little kids.” But, when the play ranger leaves, they don’t meet again. They don’t meet until the next week when the play ranger comes again, that’s sad. We could do much better than that. Not only could these kids show other kids what to do when the play rangers are not there, they could even be offered the idea of democratic structures that would enable them to, for example, have a key to a shed - to have storage facilities. There might be some adults that they could turn to when they have problems, but those adults would be parents, or local volunteers. It would be a much more sustainable model.

I would like to see playworkers find ways to develop ideas about self-organisation with children. We have got to get away from this dependency on adults. When you think about it people from my generation didn’t have any adults; all of our activities were child led. We didn’t need somebody to tell us how to organise a soccer game. We didn’t need someone to show us how to build a den, or to make a fire come to that. We did all of these things ourselves. And how did we do it? Well, we were mixed ages for one thing, learning from the competent members of our group. We have got to get back to that. We won’t completely because there is too much fear for children’s safety. But I don’t see why we can’t do it in a semi organised way – where we have given children the ideas of self-organisation and being more democratic, but they don’t have to wait for us to come every time. So, that’s a vision that I would hope to work on with people some day. If I came back to live in this country I would work directly with playworkers on that ... if I could find some to work with me.

Find out more about Roger Hart and his work at: Find out about Hart’s Ladder of Participation at: elines/TheLadderofParticipation.htm or refer to Roger A. Hart, 1992, Children's Participation: From Tokenism to Citizenship, UNICEF publication

Play for Wales Issue 24 SPRING 2008 PARTICIPATION


Participation - Play in Schools Catherine Davies, a Play Development Worker in Blaenau Gwent describes her experiences of producing a Play in Schools pamphlet that fed into a Local Authority Play Strategy. n national Playday 2007 Blaenau Gwent launched their long awaited Play Strategy.


It was important that children and young people had been consulted on all aspects of the Strategy from the beginning; so their views and opinions would inform the finished product. One section of the Strategy is called Play in Schools; it highlights the importance of providing and developing rich play environments that best meet the play needs of the children and young people of Blaenau Gwent within their school environments, both for in school and out-of-school purposes. It was decided that Blaenau Gwent’s Children’s Grand Council, which is made up of two elected pupils from each primary school in the Borough, would be best suited to help us with Play in Schools. A series of meetings were held for information sharing and consultation, which allowed the children to engage in some fun games and also get soaking wet, whilst allowing us an insight to their thoughts on the play facilities that are currently available at their schools, and what they would like to see available in future. At the end of our first meeting we asked the children to go back to their schools and conduct their own research on the matter; equipped with cameras, pens, and notebooks they began consulting with their peers.

We were delighted with the high quality of their research; it told us what they would like to see and how we could achieve these goals. Their recommendations included: • Play training for dinnertime supervisors – so that they can understand that “most of the time we are just playing and its okay that we have accidents sometimes” • Giving children the choice of playing inside or outside during playtimes, and splitting the yard into sections so everyone can use the yard (not just those playing sports) • Re-designing playgrounds so all schools have both grass and concrete (children from schools who had access to grass were horrified to hear some school children did not even have the luxury of grass!) The information was collated with the help of school council members at Georgetown Primary School. When the children were happy that we had interpreted the information in the manner that it was intended, their recommendations were included in the Strategy and were made into a glossy pamphlet to support its launch. It is early days yet, and we can’t report on the implementation of the Strategy but after all the children’s hard work it will be great to tell them how they have contributed to improving play opportunities in schools across the Borough. The Play Team would like to say a big thank you to all the children of the Children’s Grand Council and to every child who participated. For more information on the Blaenau Gwent Play Strategy or play opportunities within Blaenau Gwent please contact the Play Team on 01495 355584.

Play for Wales Issue 24 SPRING 2008 PLAY AND CHILDREN’S RIGHTS


An interview with the new Children’s Commissioner A. What is your favourite play memory? I have so many but what I enjoyed most was the freedom to go to the local park with my friends where we would build dens in the woods, play football and rugby with jumpers for goal posts, ride our bikes through imaginary courses we had set up, and just hang around discussing things. There used to be a park keeper in the park who had a little hut where he used to keep an eye on things. He was a kind man who probably kept an eye out for us but he was never intrusive – although we all used to enjoy it when he made us cups of tea on his stove when it started to rain!

B. Children and young people's play is often overlooked when it comes to children's rights, yet it's one of the most important things to children themselves. How do you propose to further children's play rights?

I agree and I think it is a real shame that people tend to overlook the importance of play in children’s lives. When I look back at my own childhood and think about how my own children benefited from play – the skills they developed, the confidence they have in social settings and the fun they have had – I feel a real responsibility to use my new role as the Children’s Commissioner for Wales to promote the value of play. As Children’s Commissioner for Wales I have a duty to promote the rights and welfare of children and that includes speaking up for children and young people. To do that well I need to make sure that I meet as many children as I can and

listen to them as they tell me about their experiences, their hopes, their aspirations and their concerns. I fully expect that children will give me strong messages about the importance of play in their lives. What interests me is how we can all work to improve children’s lives – how we can make a difference for children in practical ways that they can see, feel and experience. We must value more what children and young people tell us. I shall give a priority to listening and meeting with children and will use that foundation to inform how I will work with those people who can make a difference in local communities.

Play: the most neglected right T

he International Play Association: Promoting the Child’s Right to Play (IPA) has embarked on an ambitious plan to raise Article 31 from its position as ‘the most neglected right’ in the United Nations Convention on the Rights of the Child (UNCRC). Theresa Casey, IPA President, reports: The IPA Council* adopted a strategic plan during our World Conference in Hong Kong this year. Our first goal is to improve our visibility as a credible and authoritative world voice on children’s play; we will build on IPA’s historical connections and current networks to establish formal collaborative links with other international organisations and UN agencies. Another goal is to influence the UN Committee on the Rights of the Child. IPA played a significant role in the inclusion of play in the UNCRC but the evidence to date shows us that Article 31 is neglected, even by this Committee. IPA Council met with Professor Jakob Egbert Doek (a former Chair of the Committee) who gave us an invaluable insight into the system and advised us on how we could raise play on the agenda.

At a national level IPA members are urged to be active in ensuring that Article 31 is addressed in Country reports to the UN Committee. The UN Committee’s annual Discussion Days and the publication by them of General Comments are major vehicles for drawing attention to aspects of children’s rights; neither has yet been devoted to Article 31. Our challenge is to demonstrate what we know about the vital nature of play to children – something that is often overlooked when there are apparently weightier issues addressed in the UNCRC. Since the next IPA World Conference will be held in Wales in 2011, you will have the opportunity to challenge us on how well we have progressed. Theresa is an author and play consultant based in Scotland. *IPA is governed by the IPA Council, which is made up of national representatives, correspondents and a Board. To find out more about joining the England Wales, and Northern Ireland branch of IPA and supporting its work please visit



Playwork Wales What have we been up to? Jane Hawkshaw reveals (almost) all ... Since starting as Manager in November 2007 I have been developing systems to ensure that Playwork Wales, the National Centre for Playwork Education and Training, is built on firm foundations. We have also recruited a bilingual assistant, Aled Morris, to support our work. y colleagues and I have been meeting with awarding bodies to get the new playwork training, Playwork: Principles into Practice, or P3, on the qualifications framework.


We are working on the development of a Welsh Playwork Learning Hub including publicity, courses, and drawing together e-learning opportunities. We are commissioning workforce development research to identify the location and status of playworkers in Wales, and their training and qualifications, as well as their training needs. So, if you are a playworker, or an employer of playworkers, please watch out for this. We are developing a continuing professional development (CPD) strategy and programme for playworkers and others in the children’s workforce, which will be disseminated for consultation in the future. We are currently in the process of undertaking an evaluation of P3 with playworkers around the positive outcomes and areas of work that need to be developed and improved. If you would like more information about any of these items please contact me on 029 2048 6050 or email

Playwork: Principles into Practice – bad news – good news The bad news: after completing over 60 courses and training around 900 learners the piloting phase for P3 has now finished and funding has ended. So for the time being we are unable to offer courses for free. The good news: however, it is far from the end of our work to develop new playwork training! We have submitted a new bid that, if successful, will allow us to continue to pilot and develop the existing P3 level 2 courses as well as to develop a range of new qualifications and CPD modules including qualifications at level 3.

More good news: we are currently finalising the editing, proof reading, and design and print of the Award, Certificate and Diploma training packs at level 2. Even more good news: P3 is progressing nicely in terms of being accredited with the Scottish Qualifications Authority as a bona fide qualification.

Training Trainers 7302 There is a need for more qualified playwork trainers to deliver P3 in Wales, so Play Wales has organised a City and Guilds course (Level 3 Introduction to Delivering Learning: 7302) that has attracted playworkers from Wrexham, Swansea and Rhondda Cynon Taff, to mention a few. This is the first time we have trained playworkers from scratch to become fully qualified trainers. The course will run again later in the year and there is already a waiting list. If you are interested in being trained as a playwork trainer please contact us.

Assessor Training: L20 If you are already one of our P3 trainers or you are an experienced playworker this is a suitable course for you. It will mean that you can assess people doing our P3 courses. If you are interested please contact us.

P3 Assessments Since the start of the P3 project there have been significant developments and changes in the area of training and education, not least of which is the development of a new qualifications framework. This has meant expanding the reach of the assessment criteria for all level 2 courses and we are actively looking at ways to clear the backlog of learners needing additional assessment. If you have any questions about any aspect of P3 courses please contact: Playwork Wales, National Centre for Playwork Education and Training - telephone 029 2048 6050 or email



P Training – the impact 3

As part of our evaluation of the Playwork: Principles into Practice (P3) courses we asked managers of playworkers how they felt the training had impacted on playwork practice at their settings: Jo Jones, Play Development Officer, Vale of Glamorgan

Lisa Williams, Play Team Co-ordinator, Gwent Association of Voluntary Associations

Staff attending the P3 course came away with a real understanding of the theory behind what we do and were very confident and motivated. There was a real buzz amongst the play team.

(Since the training) the team is more reflective in their practice and they spend more time observing and evaluating the play sessions and how play opportunities can be extended. This has impacted on the children and young people, as the staff are better equipped and skilled to extend their play. Some staff who came from childcare backgrounds have had a complete change of mindset and through the training have really embraced the ethos of playwork.

As an employer I was very happy with the training and the outcome for the team, from comments made and questions asked by the staff team it was evident the training had improved their understanding of their role: • "I know how important play is now.” • “It’s not just playing, it’s everything.” • “I feel very professional about what I’m doing.” • “This experience has changed my life.”

Will Morecambe, Manager, Rhyl Adventure Playground Everyone I spoke to came away both newly enthused about their work and with plenty of ideas as to how they could improve upon it. As a manager (who participated on the course) I was able to see for myself how what happened over the three days impacted upon the improvement of practice. I can genuinely say that I learnt a lot about myself and my work practice. Staff too learnt a lot about themselves and their practice, and that this is now being transferred into their work. I would thoroughly recommend the course to all those working in the field of play.

Sue Bradshaw, Leader, Bishopston Summer Play Scheme, Gower The children played with all the unrestrained enthusiasm and energy that we had seen in previous years but there was a sense of greater freedom. Children played more imaginatively, were more physically active, relaxed, trusting, free, collaborative and happy. The same applied to the staff team. As an employer the atmosphere was exhilarating; staff took on the philosophy espoused on the training and this resulted in children who couldn’t wait to start playing and didn’t want to stop playing at the end of the day. Again, this could have been applied to the staff. The last day dawned, the big question from parents was, ’It’s always been good but this year’s has been even better, what have you all done to make it so fantastic?’ It was a simple answer, P3 training - there were far fewer tensions between what the children wanted and what we could provide.

This training has been extremely influential across the county of Caerphilly with not just playworkers gaining the skills, experience and knowledge but also aid workers, youth workers, parents and volunteers all taking their new skills back to their settings and changing the way they interact with children and young people. I am very keen for this training to continue and extend within Caerphilly and aid the development of a quality workforce.

Debra Jones, Play Development Worker, Valleys Kids The P3 training has made a huge difference to the playworkers; they are far more confident speaking to parents and others about the importance of play and the play process. Their practice has changed dramatically; there is more thought about how, when or if to intervene. They are more reflective about the play sessions, themselves and each other, they are more open and supportive of trying new things. It has had a knock on affect, with playworkers commenting on the change in children’s behaviour, they believe it is because they are now recognising play cues and responding to them. As an employer you need staff to have a variety of knowledge ranging from, play to the dreaded ‘health and safety’ and everything in between; P3 has incorporated these and much more. P3 is progressive and has separate parts which allows employers and learners to choose the right level of learning for the individual, this helps a natural progression through training. The courses give employers quality staff that are trained on play, not on how many electrical socket covers are needed! To find out more about P3 – Playwork: Principles into Practice courses please contact Mel in our Workforce Development Team on 029 2048 6050 or email


Play for Wales Issue 24 SPRING 2008 FUNDING AND EVENTS

Events and Funding Playday Organiser 9 April 2008 Playday Organiser Seminar Builth Wells

10/11 April, 7/8 May, 5/6 June 2008 Designs for Play study Tour Stirling

14/15 May 2008 The Spirit of Adventure Play

20 May 2008 Places to go?

Seminar Play Wales will be hosting a free one day Playday Organisers Seminar at the Royal Welsh Showground in Builth Wells on 9 April 2008. This year’s Playday theme is risk and play and the seminar will give playday organisers practical information and skills to be able to provide a playday that lives up to the theme as well as a chance to network and share experiences. This is a free event provided by Play Wales – we are providing the venue, trainers, materials and refreshments – delegates will need to provide their own lunch. Spaces are limited - to book a place contact Kate on 029 2048 6050 or email

Queen Elizabeth II Conference Centre, London

Spirit 2008

23 May 2008 National Play Conference – Ireland

If you are a playworker and can only afford to attend one conference in 2008 - this is the place to be We will be hosting our annual Spirit of Adventure Play conference in Cardiff on 14 and 15 May. We are expecting presentations from a Portuguese team who have been researching play fighting, Bob Hughes, Wendy Russell and Stuart Lester. Among those facilitating workshops are Ali Wood, Jess Milne, Meynell, Dan Rees Jones and Susannah Walker. For more information and to book your place visit or contact Kate on 029 2048 6050 or email

Temple Bar, Dublin

9 - 11 July 2008 Toy and Culture – International Toy Research Association World Congress Nafplion, Greece Call for papers

13 - 17 October 2008 11th International Toy Library Conference Paris Call for papers

3 - 5 November 2008 Child in the City – 4th European Conference Rotterdam Call for papers

The LankellyChase Foundation is inviting applications for small grants to support summer playschemes throughout the UK. Playschemes must benefit children between 5 and 13 years old and should preferably be local and last 4 - 6 weeks or take the form of special activities for young people who are particularly disadvantaged. Closing date for applications: 2 May 2008.

New Team Member Welcome to our new Finance Officer Jacky Jenkins who started work with us last December. She replaces Lisa who has moved to Australia with her family. Jacky has worked as a chartered accountant and whiile raising her two children she worked as a teaching assistant at a primary school and an exam invigilator at a secondary school. Jacky says: “I am looking forward to my new post which combines accounting with the experience I gained working in schools”. We hope she enjoys working with us at Play Wales.

New Baby Congratulations to Annette, our wonderful North Wales Office worker who gave birth to Eryn Mai Williams – a bouncing baby girl – on 22 February 2008. Have a great time with your newly extended family, and we look forward to having you back on the team in September.

Play for Wales issue 24  

Play Wales is the national charity for children's play. We publish the Play for Wales magazine three times a year.