Playing is important to all children and to all our communities. Since 1998, Play Wales has successfully campaigned and advocated for play, encouraged and supported the Welsh Government to make some internationally ground breaking commitments on behalf of children.
Increased funding for children’s play
- In 2000, following lobbying by Play Wales, the Welsh Assembly Government distributed a £1 million Play Grant to create staffed open access play provision. Although originally intended as funding for one year, the grant has continued as part of other grant funds in subsequent years.
- In 2006, Play Wales was contracted for three years to help deliver the Big Lottery Fund £13 million Child’s Play programme to support capacity building and strategic play projects in Wales.
- Most recently, Play Wales supported local authorities to make best use of funding made available through the Increasing Play Opportunities Grant in 2014, 2015 and 2017.
Increased national recognition of play
Play Wales supported the Welsh Assembly Government to develop the 2002 Play Policy – the first in the world. Play Wales also supported the work of developing the Welsh Assembly Government Play Policy Implementation Plan (2006).
In 2012, the Welsh Government legislated for children’s play. Play opportunities are included in the Children and Families (Wales) Measure 2010. This places a duty on local authorities ‘to assess and secure sufficient play opportunities for children in their areas as far as reasonably practicable’. By responding to consultations our members helped to ensure that the importance of play features strongly in this ground-breaking Welsh legislation. Another world first – this is probably the most important development to happen for children’s play in Wales.
In 2014 the Welsh Government published Wales – A Play Friendly Country, statutory guidance on assessing and securing sufficient play opportunities. Play Wales has continued to provide support and advice to all stakeholders in relation to implementing the guidance.
In 2017 Play Wales worked closely with Public Health Wales on the Every Child Wales programme which recognises the crucial importance of playing to children’s physical and emotional health.
A dynamic workforce
Play Wales developed The First Claim ... a framework for playwork quality assessment and The First Claim – desirable processes. These publications aim to support those working with children to analyse play environments and provides a framework to assess the quality of what is being provided for, and experienced by children.
Play Wales led the UK review of the Playwork Values and Assumptions. Following consultation, the Playwork Principles were adopted by the sector and endorsed by SkillsActive, the Sector Skills Council for Playwork, in 2005. The Playwork Principles now underpin the occupational standards for playwork in the UK.
To develop contemporary playwork practice, Play Wales worked with the Scottish Qualifications Authority (SQA) to offer Playwork: Principles into Practice (P3) qualifications at level 2 and 3. To support this innovative training we produced inspiring learning materials. Between Play Wales, the Welsh Government and European funding we have invested over £1.5m in the development, piloting and delivery of Playwork: Principles into Practice (P3).
Play Wales has continued to collaborate with Welsh Government to ensure that playwork training and qualifications meet the needs of the workforce. This work has included the development of two qualifications aimed at those working in holiday play schemes – the Level 2 Award in Playwork Practice (L2APP) and the Level 3 Managing a Holiday Playscheme Award (MAHPS) (Agored Cymru).
This all means that the people who work with our children are as well trained as possible.
Increased awareness of play
- Through the website and by producing regular e-bulletins, magazines, information sheets, books and posters, Play Wales widely promotes children’s play. Our website is internationally regarded as one of the most effective for conveying timely information about children’s play.
- Play Wales provides training, seminars and conferences for all those who provide and support children’s play – including the International Play Association (IPA) 2011 World Conference.
- The First Minister, Carwyn Jones AM, accepted the IPA Right to Play Award on behalf of all those in Wales who strive to make Wales a play friendly place. Wales is the first country to receive this prestigious award. This led to Play Wales establishing its Wales – A Play Friendly Place campaign.
- Play Wales supported IPA’s work with United Nations Committee on the Rights of the Child to draft and adopt a General Comment that clarifies for governments worldwide the meaning and importance of Article 31 of the Convention on the Right of the Child. Play Wales worked with Welsh children to develop resources to promote the rights set out in Article 31 of the UNCRC for IPA to coincide with the launch of the General Comment.
- Play Wales worked with the University of Gloucestershire to produce two reports that present the findings of two small-scale research projects, the first exploring how local authorities responded to the introduction of the duty to assess sufficient play opportunities for children and the second a follow-up looking back over the past year and forward to the commencement of the second part of the Duty, to secure sufficient play opportunities for children.
All this has contributed to more children having time, freedom and permission to play. There is still work to be done to make Wales a place where play is respected for its critical importance to childhood.– add your voice to help us do more.