Workshops

This year's Spirit workshops include: 

Probably the best introduction to playwork in the world!

Martin King-Sheard, Play Wales

Play Wales has developed a Level 2 Award in Playwork Practice (L2APP) with funding from the Welsh Government. The qualification, which is based on our comprehensive level 2 and 3 playwork qualifications, Playwork: Principles into Practice (P3), is intended to support a playwork understanding for staff working in a range of settings.

This workshop will be part presentation and part interactive. We will explore how L2APP has been developed, summarise the content and provide participants with a practical opportunity to sample some of the course. 

L2APP uses teaching and learning materials developed by playwork experts and is designed to provide a good foundation for those new to playwork. In Wales, it is being used to upskill new playworkers working in holiday play provision but also crucially, providing an accredited learning pathway for: teachers, teaching assistants, youth workers, community development, social workers and health professionals to better understand how they can support play in non-playwork settings.

The course can be delivered over three days or six half days with assessment of skills and knowledge as well as competence in practice. This makes it more affordable and achievable than undertaking larger playwork qualifications.

Martin is the Workforce Development Officer for Play Wales and has lead responsibility for policy and strategic development related to the learning and professional development of the play and playwork workforce in Wales. He is based in North Wales and has worked for Play Wales since 2006, firstly employed as part of our contract with the BIG Lottery Child’s Play programme and more recently seconded to Conwy Voluntary Services Council (CVSC) as Conwy’s Principal Play Officer between 2009 and 2014. He began his playwork career in 2002 as a play development worker with a small charity in Sherwood, Nottingham. When not working he is mostly likely to be found playing with his family on the beach, juggling or training for a triathlon.

Playable plants and public spaces

Millie Boswell, CVSC and Matt Stowe, Cartrefi Conwy

This workshop will draw on learning from development work and research carried out in Conwy. We will focus on a model of consultation and design used by the Conwy play development team in partnership with the housing association Cartrefi Conwy.

The workshop will explore methods of consultation with children and play space auditing. We will then look at playground and public space design. In particular, we will focus on the importance of plants in public space and look at findings from a new and unique research project around plants and play.

Millie is the lead for play sufficiency in Conwy and works across the county to improve and increase opportunities for playing. She is a playwork tutor and advocate and works both strategically and in a community development capacity. Millie delivers popup playwork sessions, volunteers with an adventure playground and has spent time volunteering abroad as a playworker with refugees.

Matt is Cartrefi Conwy’s environmental development officer transformed the Peulwys housing estate into a ‘green oasis’. His study of horticulture and landscaping and his experience of many years as a landscape gardener enabled him to break new ground with his plans and designs, which have improved the community areas of Cartrefi Conwy’s properties, resulting in more biodiversity, education, community engagement and natural play. Following this work, they applied for the Green Flag for Parks award and are the first Housing Association in Wales to achieve this award.

Children and mobile digital technology in outdoor play

Chris Martin

This workshop will interest anyone who would like to explore how children and mobile digital technology interact in outdoor play. It will draw on current academic literature, taken from PhD research but will aim to be accessible to practitioners as well as to those with an interest in theory. This workshop is in two parts.

The presentation introduces the initial results of fieldwork that investigates the relationship between children and mobile digital technology in outdoor play, based in an adventure playground in southwest England. It is part of a PhD project that takes a detailed look at how children (10-15 years) and mobile digital technology mix together in outdoor play, and suggests different ways of looking at the issues.

The research examines how modern childhoods are still full of play and wonder, and makes the case that this new normal is no less important than any other childhood. It examines how children combine play in digital spaces and with digital tools while still climbing trees, making dens, and chasing each other.

The second part is discussion based, with participants sharing observations and experiences of children and mobile digital technology in play. These will be looked at in terms of the concepts from the presentation as well as being examined from a playwork perspective, drawing on the Playwork Principles and other playwork writing.

Chris is a playworker, writer, researcher, and play activist. He has an MA in Play and Playwork and is engaged in fieldwork for his PhD at the University of Leicester, examining the interaction between children and mobile digital technology in outdoor play. He is on the board of the International Play Association England, Wales and Northern Ireland (EWNI), a fellow of the Royal Geographical Society (with the Institute of British Geographers). He has published and delivered academic and professional papers in the UK and internationally, including the recent Play Wales information sheet Play and digital technology. Chris is also a playworker at Tiverton Adventure Playground and is currently co-creating a green oak treehouse.

How playwork influenced the lives of two primary school communities

Ben Tawil

What is play and how might play intervention programmes using a playwork approach influence primary school communities?

‘Well, we learn more playing out now, because we couldn’t learn anything when we had just sticks and stones, that we weren’t allowed to play with!’ (Year six child)

Play interventions are often used in primary schools for various reasons to varying effect. Some of those achieving significant success take a playwork approach to working with children and their play. This workshop will take an in-depth look at research carried out in two primary schools where a playwork intervention was implemented. We will consider the literature and the gaps in it, the methodology, and discuss the findings, their implications for playwork and primary school children and the broader primary school community.

Ben shares his time between lecturing at Leeds Beckett University, and his company Ludicology, which aims to support all concerned with children’s play through advice, research and training. Ben has worked on projects investigating the influence of playwork in primary schools, the effects of loose parts play on children’s physical activity, the experiences of participants in a regional play project, local authority play sufficiency assessments and the development of suitable processes for managing risk in staffed play provision. Ben has been a playworker/manager and play development officer. Ben’s work has appeared in industry publications, edited books and journals as well as being presented at many conferences.

Every Child Wales – the contribution of outdoor play

Rob Sage, Public Health Wales 

The workshop will start with an overview of the Every Child Wales programme and the evidence and links between outdoor play and maintaining a healthy weight for children in the early years. The session will then engage participants in discussing and developing ideas for how playworkers and childcare settings can help and support parents to take on board the message about the importance of providing daily opportunities for children to play outdoors.

Robert Sage is Principal Health Promotion Practitioner in the Health Improvement Division at Public Health Wales and programme lead for physical activity. He has a particular expertise in the area of active travel, having previously worked for Sustrans Cymru and was the lead on their behaviour change programme. Rob currently represents Public Health Wales on the Active Travel Act board and provides oversight and advice on the development of the National Exercise Referral Scheme for Public Health Wales.

Let’s get playful: paper and cardboard self-build structures

Simon Bazley 

The practical session will support participants to make and build a variety of items and structures using predominantly paper and/or cardboard. Fancy making a world record holding paper plane, simple kites, noisy snappers? Or perhaps build a geodesic dome out of cardboard tubes? What about a giant catapult to fire water bombs, fruit or cream pies?

The Playful Futures schools project introduces loose parts and a playwork approach at playtimes. One very wet day at Ysgol yr Esgob, Caerwys, a group of bored children in possession of an abundance of scrap paper, tablets and an internet connection rapidly spiralled into a whole host of paper based items being created and destroyed. Simon will be sharing some of their creations, as well as encouraging participants to share their paper based ideas. An abundance of cardboard tubes from fabric or carpet suppliers as well as a lot of gaffer tape and some ingenuity has led to some impressive structures and creations at a variety of events. Come and have a go at building some for yourself.

Simon is a freelance play consultant and playwork trainer who works under the name Playful Futures. He was previously the Executive Officer for the charitable social enterprise, North East Wales Play (NEW Play). He delivers accredited training via Playwork Partnerships and Adult Learning Wales. He is currently focusing on the delivery of his Playful Futures schools project as well as the ongoing development of tools to support strategic development such as quality assessment frameworks that aim to make childcare settings more playful. In a voluntary capacity Simon is one of the founding members of The Playwork Foundation, which supports playwork, playworkers and play. He has a background in Ecology, facilitating strategic partnerships and community development.