Consultation on Labour Party’s proposal to make youth service statutory

August 30th, 2018 by

The Labour Party has opened a consultation on ‘Building a statutory youth service.’

Following this consultation process, the Party aims to create a ‘National Strategy for Youth Work and a Charter underpinned by law’ and ‘create a sustainable funding model to support the delivery of a statutory youth service’

The Party has said that “it should be the responsibility of the Secretary of State to promote and secure sufficient youth services, working together with local authorities and voluntary bodies. To support this ambition, a Labour Government would mandate a national body with dedicated ring fenced funding to oversee youth service provision across England. This body would work with all local youth service partnerships, review local youth strategies, monitor and distribute funding, and advise on professional and service standards.”

Play England believes this consultation is a great opportunity to support youth services and raise awareness about the need to protect, defend and rebuild playwork, playworkers and children’s access to free play provision.

Play England will be making a submission to this consultation.

What do you think?

We would like to get your views and input. If you want to submit to our response, please e-mail us by Monday 1 October.

To find out more about the consultation click here:


Play England’s response to ‘Child’s Play’ report by Children’s Commissioner

August 29th, 2018 by

Play England today welcomed recommendations in the report ‘Child’s Play’ by Children’s Commissioner Anne Longfield for increased investment in play provision. The report highlights the urgent need for a joined-up approach to reverse the decline in children playing out. It draws attention to children’s worsening mental and physical health – and rightly argues that children’s play and physical activity must be a public health priority.

The Commissioner calls on the government to put out-of-school activity at the heart of its obesity strategy, pointing out it currently “focuses almost exclusively on nutrition, advertising and in-school physical activity”.

Play England has consistently argued that there needs a national strategy backed up by national and local funding. In 2010 the coalition government dropped the national play strategy and cancelled funding for play provision. National government grants to local authorities has been cut by over 30% since 2010. The impact of these cuts is clear: since 2014 nearly 400 playgrounds have been closed or are in line for closure, and Fields in Trust research shows 92% of local authority park departments have experienced budget cuts. Staffed play provision is also suffering from continued cuts.

It is very heartening that the report calls for investment to ensure parks and playgrounds are properly maintained and safe environments. The report also suggests that some of the government’s  ‘Sugar Tax’ should be re-allocated away from schools’ sports and healthy eating programmes and instead used “to promote play and activity outside of school, along with making healthy meals available to children during these times so that they have the energy and strength to take part.”  However, Play England believes that instead of reallocating money away from schools – which are already facing chronic under-funding  – the government needs to make new funding streams available.

Whilst looking at ways to reduce the cost of out-of-school play provision is a step in the right direction, if we are to ensure that the most vulnerable children in our society can access play provision, this needs to be free and publicly funded.  Play England welcomes the promotion of our Street Play project, which we piloted with funding from Public Health England. We also believe that publicly funded staffed play provision, such as Adventure Playgrounds, can help deliver the joined-up, community-driven play programme called for in this report. Adventure Playgrounds offer free, quality play opportunities in a safe environment. Many were built and developed by communities in areas of high social deprivation and have strong links with the local community including police, schools and public health bodies. These spaces attract children from a diversity of social backgrounds which is immeasurably important for social cohesion. Trained playworkers are uniquely placed to support children and families to help them build confidence about playing together.

We welcome the report’s recommendation that play provision needs to be strategically planned as part of local areas’ Joint Strategic Needs Assessment (JSNA). Planning and design are also important ways to improve play provision. Play England supports the London Plan recommendations on recreational and informal play which state that all housing developments should include informal recreational spaces. Play England has asked that Adventure Playgrounds also to be included in the all new developments.

Many of the issues and recommendations from the Children’s Commissions report are echoed in feedback from play workers, teachers, play practitioners, parents, residents and local councillors who are participating in policy roadshows we are running to develop a Manifesto for Play. We believe that it is vital the Government takes notice of the recommendations of its Children’s Commissioner and acts now to tackle the health crisis of our children and young people.

Download the report here.


UK Children’s Commissioners stand together for a child’s right to play

July 31st, 2018 by

The UK’s annual celebration of play – Playday 2018 – takes place today!

This year all four children’s commissioners from England, Northern Ireland, Scotland and Wales stand together to support the importance of children’s play as an essential aspect of childhood as thousands of children across the four nations attend organised Playday events.

Koulla Yiasouma, Northern Ireland Commissioner for Children and Young People, Bruce Adamson, Children and Young People’s Commissioner for Scotland, Sally Holland, Children’s Commissioner for Wales and Anne Longfield OBE Children’s Commissioner for England are urging everyone to play their part in ensuring the creation of the best possible opportunities for all children and young people to embrace their right to play.

The four commissioners are calling for:

  • All adults to consider how they can help children and young people across the UK have time, space, permission and support to play, both in their family life and in their community.
  • Organisations to think about whether they are doing all they can to empower and involve children and young people to have a say in ideas and decisions that affect their rights – including their right to play.
  • Governments and statutory agencies to actively promote and protect children’s right to play through the provision of adequate resources.

Now in its 31st year, Playday celebrates ‘Children’s Right to Play’ as set out in Article 31 of the United Nations Convention on the Rights of the Child (UNCRC) which recognises the right of every child to play, rest, leisure, enjoy recreational activities and free and full participation in cultural and artistic life.

The four national UK play organisations, Play Wales, PlayBoard Northern Ireland, Play England and Play Scotland are calling on everyone – parents, grandparents, carers, childcare providers and support staff across the UK to help celebrate and promote the importance of play for all children.

In a joint statement, Play Scotland’s CEO Marguerite Hunter Blair, Play Wales Director Mike Greenaway, PlayBoard Northern Ireland CEO Jacqueline O’Loughlin and Play England’s Chair of Trustees Nicola Butler said:

‘We warmly welcome this support and call to action from the four Children’s Commissioners.

Providing opportunities for play is everyone’s responsibility. We all need to continue to work together to ensure that every child has enough time, space and permission to play every day of the year. So, let’s all get out to play on Playday and have the best fun ever”.

  • ENDS –


About Playday

Playday is the national day for play, traditionally held on the first Wednesday in August. As well as an annual celebration of children’s right to play, Playday is a campaign that highlights the importance of play in children’s lives. Playday is coordinated by Play England, Play Wales, Play Scotland and PlayBoard Northern Ireland. On Playday thousands of children and young people get out to play at hundreds of locally organised celebrations – from small-scale neighbourhood get-togethers to large-scale public events. For more information see

About Play England

Play England campaigns for all children to have the freedom and space to play throughout childhood. As the national organisation for children’s play, Play England works with all those who have an impact on children’s lives to support and champion play as an essential part of childhood. For further information or to talk to a spokesperson, call 07802 722412 or visit

About Play Wales

Play Wales is the national charity for children’s play in Wales. We provide advice, support and guidance for all those in Wales who have a concern or responsibility for any environment where children and young people might play. Play Wales upholds children’s right to play. All children are entitled to quality play provision within their communities and we work strategically to achieve this goal on their behalf. For further information visit

About Play Scotland

Play Scotland was formed in 1998 to make the child’s right to play a reality in Scotland. The work of Play Scotland is underpinned by the United Nations Convention on the Rights of the Child and in particular Article 31: “States Parties recognise the right of the child to rest and leisure, to engage in play and recreational activities appropriate to the age of the child and to participate freely in cultural life and the arts.” Play Scotland’s mission is to increase awareness of the importance of play to the development of children and young people in Scotland; to ensure that all children and young people in Scotland have equal access to diverse and quality play opportunities that meet their individual need.  You can become a Play Champion for Scotland by signing up to Scotland’s Play Charter.  Full details on our web.

For further information on Play Scotland visit or

About PlayBoard Northern Ireland

PlayBoard is the leading agency for the development and promotion of children and young people’s play in Northern Ireland. To this end, the organisation provides a range of innovative services designed to strengthen service delivery through advice, support, training and tailored provision. PlayBoard’s work is concentrated and prioritised within a framework of ‘equity, diversity and interdependence’ (EDI), and is consistent with the ethos of human rights, social justice and social inclusion. For further information on PlayBoard visit Email:


For more information please contact:

Play England’s Communications Officer, Sophie Bolt: 07802 722412
Play Wales’ Communications Manager, Angharad Wyn Jones – 029 2048 6050
Play Scotland, Marguerite Hunter Blair, CEO 07795 954856   Office: 0131 313 8859
PlayBoard Northern Ireland’s Communications Officer Jon O’Rourke, Office: 028 90803380


Social Media:

Follow #Playday2018 on Twitter







Great start to play policy forums in Bristol

June 14th, 2018 by

A big thank you to everyone who helped make our packed out Play policy forum such a success yesterday in Bristol.

A special thank you to Bristol City Council and Councillor Helen Godwin for hosting the event, along with Bristol Play Network. The successful event organised with the Playwork Foundation, brought together those involved in or interested in play policy to help shape a manifesto for play.

Special guest Play Scotland’s Marguerite Hunter Blair outlined important initiatives supported by the Scottish government, such as the Place Standard, a planning tool which recognises the role of play in creating healthy communities. Play England’s Chair of Trustees Nicola Butler, pointed out that Westminster should be adopting initiatives like these not hindering children’s opportunity to play.

Participants strongly supported the call to reverse funding cuts, which are damaging the play sector and reducing children’s access to free accessible play. Reversing funding for local parks and ending the sell-off of public open spaces are also high on the list of manifesto demands. Fields in Trust research shows that while parks are highly valued by the public and usage is increasing, 92% of local authority park departments have experienced budget cuts in the past three years.

Playing Out’s Alice Ferguson updated participants on the progress being made in building support for Street Play and Carole Theyer from Sparks gave a rallying cry for play organisations to back the trailblazer apprenticeship and the need to develop quality playwork training.

All feedback from these forums will be collated and incorporated into a manifesto for play to help put play back on the political agenda. In the meantime, Play England is developing campaigning resources and is keen to put together case studies which show both the impact of the cuts on play provision, as well as the success stories. If you would like to help us with this work, please e-mail

If you live in the north east of England, the next policy forum is waiting for you to register! It’s on Thursday 12 July, hosted by Shiremoor Adventure Playground, in Tyneside.

For more details click here.

Get set for North East Play Policy forum at Shiremoor Adventure Playground

June 14th, 2018 by

A manifesto for play – a policy development event

10am – 3pm, Thursday 12 July 2018

Shiremoor Adventure Playground, Brenkley Ave, Shiremoor, North Tyneside NE27 0PR

This event is free! All welcome!

Hosted by Shiremoor Adventure Playground, this Play policy forum ‘A manifesto for play’, is a unique opportunity for everyone in the north east and beyond to come together to discuss the issues – both nationally and locally – for the play sector including children’s play in schools, the particular benefits of staffed play provision and more. You’ll also get a tour of the Adventure Playground!

Speakers include Nicola Butler from Play England, Ali Wood of Playwork Foundation, Kath Smith from the ‘Remembering the Past, Resourcing the Future’, project, Claire Twinn, from Waterville Primary School and Keeks McGarry, Manager of Shiremoor Adventure Playground.

The forum is part of a roadshow of discussion forums organised by Play England and the Playwork Foundation taking place across the country to consult with all those involved in and impacted by children’s play – to help shape a manifesto for play, coordinate campaigning for better play provision, and share latest thinking and developments in play.

These discussions will feed into and shape a national manifesto for Play to help put play back on the political agenda.

This event is free! All welcome! The Adventure Playground are very kindly provided refreshments and lunch. Donations to Shiremoor are welcome.

To register, please book your place here:

If you want more information, please e-mail


Play England Annual General Meeting – Monday 4 June

May 1st, 2018 by

Play England Annual General Meeting

Monday 4 June, 12.30 – 1.30pm

Bristol Town Hall, College Green, Bristol BS1 5TR

All welcome!

Play England is delighted to announce that this year its Annual General Meeting is being hosted by Bristol City Council and Bristol Play Network. Taking place on Monday 4 June, it will update members on Play England’s latest activities and elect its Board of Trustees.

The AGM runs in the lunchtime of a packed day of the Play policy forum ‘A manifesto for play: developing a National Play Strategy’, part of a roadshow of discussion forums organised by Play England and the Playwork Foundation taking place across the country to consult with the play sector and develop key policy asks to form a manifesto for play, coordinate campaigning for better play provision, and share latest thinking and developments in play.

In order to attend the AGM, you will need to be a member of Play England. If you are not already a member, it is really easy to join – and free! Join on-line here:

To book your place at the AGM, just register here:

If you would like to nominate someone for the post of Trustee, please complete this form and e-mail it to by Tuesday 29 May.

The policy forums are open to all members – we hope that you will consider attending.

The Bristol event is open to all play workers and playwork practictioners based in and around Bristol and is a unique opportunity to come together and discuss the key policy areas – both nationally and locally. These discussions will feed into and shape a national manifesto for Play to help put play back on the political agenda!

For further information about Bristol’s policy forum and to register for this free event, please click here.

For details of the other policy forums, click here.

Play needs increased funding

March 5th, 2018 by

With the latest report by the Office for National Statistics (ONS) showing girls spending more time involved in play activities than boys, Play England is highlighting how the chronic funding crisis on the play sector means girls in particular are missing out on play opportunities. The ONS report ‘Children’s engagement with the outdoors and sports activities, UK: 2014 to 2015’ shows that whilst boys spent longer on sports activities, girls spent more of their time in play activities – 127 minutes per day compared to boys at 96 minutes.
Yet government’s investment in play has been cut from £235 million prior to 2010 to zero in 2018. Between 2012 and 2017, Sport England received £1 billion from the government and National Lottery funding. Play England is calling for these levels of national funding to also be made available for play.

Here is a model letter to MPs. Please complete and send this to your local MP!

Your name & address (you must include this in order to receive a response from your local MP)

Your MP (find out who they are, and contact parliamentary e-mail here🙂

Dear XXX

I am writing to ask you to support an increase in national funding for play provision.

The benefits of play reach into every aspect of children’s lives. It is vital for their enjoyment of childhood as well as for social, emotional, intellectual and physical development. Independent research, as well as the Chief Medical Officer’s own recommendations, emphasizes the effectiveness of play in helping children’s health and wellbeing. The Mental Health Foundation recommends that regular play helps keep children mentally well.

Access to high quality, staffed play opportunities also benefits parents and families, providing important social support, crucial lifelines in deprived neighbourhoods and for parents in need.

 However, investment in play has collapsed: prior to 2010, government investment in play was  £235 million. Now, in 2018, it is zero. 

This is damaging the quality and availability of public play provision in local parks and open spaces. National government cuts to local authorities is also forcing staffed play providers, such as adventure playgrounds and after-school clubs, to cut services or close.

These cuts are limiting children’s access to free, local play spaces and taking a toll on children’s health and wellbeing. According to the government’s childhood obesity strategy, nearly a third of children aged two to 15 in England are overweight or obese. The problem is worse amongst children from the most deprived areas, with five-year olds twice as likely to be obese compared to their most well off counterparts. A Children and Young People’s Mental Health Coalition survey has found that young people’s mental health problems have become more severe over the last two years.

Investing in play benefits everyone and is vital for this country’s future. Between 2012 and 2017, the government and National Lottery invested £1 billion in Sport England. I believe that the same levels of funding need to be made available for play.

Please support Play England’s ‘Save our Play’ campaign which calls on the government to pledge matched funding between sport and play – to benefit all of our children and young people.

I look forward to hearing from you.


Yours sincerely,


Your name


You can also download the model letter here.

Play England’s submission to Draft London Plan Consultation

March 1st, 2018 by

Submission to London Plan Consultation:

Policy S4: inclusion of adventure playgrounds in new developments

Play England welcomes the Mayor of London’s Draft London Plan, particularly Policy S4 on Play and Informal Recreation which calls on London Boroughs to:

  • undertake audits of existing play and informal recreation provision and opportunities, and assessments of need, considering the quantity, quality and accessibility of provision
  • produce strategies on play and informal recreation facilities and opportunities, supported by Development Plan policies, to address identified needs.

Play England would like to see the inclusion of adventure playgrounds in all new developments. 
This is because adventure playgrounds offer a unique form of staffed play provision where children can play in ways that they often can’t elsewhere. They are challenging but safe places to play because they are staffed by skilled playworkers. Benefits of adventure playgrounds include children and young people’s improved physical health, more respite for parents, as well as increased confidence and resilience among users. Adventure playgrounds can offer children – particularly vulnerable children living in areas of high social deprivation – places where they learn for themselves how to deal with risks and build the resilience needed to cope with life’s challenges. Because of the unique public service that adventure playgrounds offer, they often become the heart of a neighbourhood community.

Adventure Playgrounds are often ‘open access’ providers. This means children are free to leave unsupervised. Open access provision seems to be particularly attractive to vulnerable children, perhaps because it is free and easy to access — in contrast with more formal provision. As a result, play providers are often at the frontline of work with more vulnerable families, as they can be the only professionals in contact with children. Open access provision is particularly effective at reaching disadvantaged and socially excluded children who are not accessing more formal provision. For instance, where children have been excluded from school, or the growing number whose parents have been pressured into home educating their children.

Here is more information about the importance of adventure playgrounds and the impact they have on their communities:


We would also propose an additional policy line, that challenges the use of ‘negative signage for recreation’ – specifically ‘No Ball Games’ signs and associated signage. The social and cultural implications of such signage can lead to a substantial, negative impact on engagement with play, physical activity and sport.



Play England is expanding its Board of Trustees!

February 20th, 2018 by

Play England wants to expand its board of trustees!

We’re seeking people from a broad range of backgrounds with skills in HR and/or employment law, fundraising, and marketing in particular, as well as people from related sectors such as child psychology, social work, healthcare, teaching or youth work.

Trustees meet every two months in London, and can have reasonable travel expenses reimbursed, if necessary, to enable attendance. Outside of meetings, trustees are expected to engage in other tasks to support the charity, depending on their expertise. This is not likely to take more than an additional two or three days a month.

If you have the skills we are seeking, have an interest in children’s play and would like to contribute to our work, please do apply!

Download the full advert here.

Download the full advert as a word file.

Download the application pack here.

Download the job description and person specification here.

Completed applications should be e-mailed to by 30 April 2018.



Shiremoor leads the way on quality in play

February 2nd, 2018 by

Shiremoor Adventure Playground is the latest play organisation to be accredited with Quality in Play (QiP), Play England’s quality assurance system for playwork practitioners.

Shiremoor, in Newcastle upon Tyne, is a former mining area with high levels of deprivation. The adventure playground opened in 2010 as part of the Play Pathfinder Programme on a previously unused seven hectare site of land. It is managed by North Tyneside Council who provide core funding for staff and running costs. The Shiremoor Adventure Playground Trust raise additional charitable and other funding for salaries and activities.

The Adventure Playground has successfully managed the transition from catering for a very local community, to being a destination playground in the spring and summer months, when between 300 to 500 people visit daily.   In autumn and winter it reverts back to a community playground for core local users. Because the playground is less busy, this is when the more adventurous play, like Parkour, takes place.

Play England talked to Shiremoor’s Manager and Senior Playworker, Keeks McGarry about the QiP experience.

Why was accreditation important to you?

“It’s important for a number of reasons. We strongly believe in the professional profile of playwork and welcome being scrutinised by a set of standards that have been endorsed by the sector. Having achieved QIP status it’s given the team credibility and confidence in what we do and how we do it. QIP is also important from the perspective of an Adventure Playground within a local authority model as our approach is not always understood by Health and Safety Inspectors, other professionals and organisations who may not be familiar with a playwork approach.”

Quality in Play is a management tool to support continuous self-assessment and improvement. The process brings together the staff and management team to organise the policies and procedures – ‘how we do things here’ – into a portfolio of evidence.


How did your team manage the process of working through the Play summary areas?

“For most of the areas we started with a bunch of our Annual Reports and policy documents as paper-based evidence of how we were meeting the criteria. So, for example, Area 1 looks at the importance of freely chosen play. Statements in our Annual Reports and in our Play Policy produced robust evidence of how we were meeting this area. Once we had paper-based evidence we discussed other formats such as videos or children’s statements that would provide an holistic picture of that summary area. We knew from the past accreditation process that our weakest area was around publicity and information dissemination so we made a concerted effort to address this when putting together all of our evidence this time round. The QIP process has also helped us to focus on what we are providing as professional playworkers and we’ve used it as evidence of quality in relation to several funding bids.”

At Shiremoor, children are actively involved in the running of the playground, making sure everyone signs in and showing new arrivals around the playground. Regulars also look out for younger children and new users on the structures. Shiremoor has developed a team of ‘Helping Hands’ and more recently ‘Junior Playworkers’ who encourage children to take responsibility for tasks and jobs – and they clearly take pride in and enjoy them. In return, they are allowed on the playground an hour early, which is seen as a great privilege.

“Children were involved in the Quality in Play process right from the beginning,” says Keeks. “Some of our older users had helped in pulling together a file of their own evidence for our first accreditation visit so they guided a younger group in collating a file this time around. This worked on two levels. On one level the children’s file began to fill up with all kinds of ‘evidence’, ranging from pieces of their own artwork, to photos of trips they had been on. We briefed a core group of children on talking about what was in their file so that they could present it on the day of assessment.

This got the children familiar with the process as well as focusing them on some of the summary areas where they could really have an input. By the time the day of inspection had arrived a lot of our children were really familiar with what was going to be assessed and were more than keen to help show the inspector around and talk about the evidence in their file.”

Another part of the Quality in Play process looks at how play providers can actively engage and work with the wider community – ‘the local community is the sea in which play provision swims or sinks.’ As children’s services are increasingly integrated, play providers need to make links with networks of professionals who work with children and young people in their area. This enables play and other services to signpost children and families to each other and build community awareness of what is available.

Working through the Quality in Play process, did it help you to demonstrate the positive impact of the playground on the wider community?

“QIP accreditation has given the Playground a sense of status that really helps when working with other organisations and professionals. To the uninitiated, Adventure Playgrounds are often misunderstood. It can be difficult to build relationships and partnerships in the wider community unless there is some understanding about our approach and our practice and how this can benefit the children we work with. QIP has helped us to develop good, mutually respected relationships in the local and wider community enabling us to work closer with local police, social workers, local schools, colleges and universities, youth offending teams, foster carers and local businesses. This has given us the opportunity to ‘educate’ some of these people and organisations in relation to the importance of play in the lives of children.”

These mutually respected relationships are evident in the Playground’s Annual Report, where PC Kev Rogerson is quoted: “The playground, the staff and the volunteers are part of the fabric of the lives of the young people of Shiremoor. They know the young people so well and are always looking to enhance their lives by providing experiences that help raise their confidence and self-esteem. I would say that the Adventure Playground is one of the main factors in helping us keep youth issues ‘in hand’. If we (as the police) are looking to think of ways to divert young people from disruptive behaviour, Keeks and his staff team are the ones we go to for help and advice.”

An independent assessment of QiP noted, “with regards to a playwork approach or playwork ethos, QiP was found time-and-again to have made a significant difference in practice to individuals, their teams, to children and, in one case, a whole authority. Those who had embraced the process described how ‘the light bulb was switched on’ for them, or how they had been on a ‘learning journey of team understanding”. 

Did Shiremoor have this lightbulb moment?

“Our lightbulb has been flickering on and off throughout the process as we have now undertaken the ‘journey’ twice,” says Keeks. “The first time around it was a case of affirmation for the way we worked, with the realisation that although we were confident that we were meeting most of the criteria and standards in the play summary areas, we did not have the evidence to prove this to others! When we were going for re-accreditation the system was familiar and gaps were a lot easier to identify so we could concentrate more on the quality of evidence that we were providing.”

Interested in getting accredited for Quality in Play? Find out more here: