A play response to the Every Child Matters Outcomes (2006)

A play response to the Every Child Matters Outcomes (2006) www.playpeople.se [email protected]  Contents 4. Acknowledgements 6. In...
Author: Milo Thomas
5 downloads 0 Views 7MB Size
A play response to the Every Child Matters Outcomes (2006)

www.playpeople.se [email protected]



Contents 4.

Acknowledgements

6.

Introduction & Structure of the Document

Section 1 8.

The Difficulty with Play

9.

Background to local authority involvement in play provision

10.

The Every Child Matters – Change for Children agenda

12.

The Play Agenda: Partnerships, Strategic working and the Dobson Review

13.

The Inclusion Agenda: Play for all

14.

Themes from the fieldwork

Section 2 16.

Play in Parks and Playground and the ECM Outcomes

23.

Play in Supervised Play Settings and the ECM Outcomes

29.

Play Schools and Hospitals and the ECM Outcomes

35.

Play in the Wider Community and the ECM Outcomes

41.

Play, Service Management and the ECM Outcomes

Section 3

44.

The Discussion Statements in Detail



Acknowledgements The author would like to thank the following for the time and assistance with this project: Graeme Brooke Lynne Bruce-Minotti Steve Chan Anne Chapman Barbara Charlton Steve Chown Issy Cole-Hamilton Lance Farlam Keith Hardy Beth Hogg Sara Jenson-Boon Pam Johnson Sue Kennedy Ann Kelly Jane Lunt Chris Martin Janice Monty Paddy Mulligan Chris Munday Rachel Murray Frank O’Malley Vicki Nixon Michael Rowan Alan Smith John Smith Lynne Williams



Headteacher, Bricknell Primary, Hull Head of Schools Extended Services, Rotherham Metropolitan Council Deputy Head, Youth & Community Service (Play Officer) Wirral Metropolitan Borough Council Senior Childcare Development Officer, Sure Start Support Team Wirral Metropolitan Borough Council Childcare Coordinator (Extended Schools), North Tyneside Sure Start Strategic Partnership Programme Manager, Torbay Children’s Fund Policy and Research Officer, Children’s Play Council Principal Officer, Parks Development Wirral Metropolitan Borough Council Play & Urban Games Manager, North Tyneside Council Play Development Officer, Children & Young People’s Services Wirral Metropolitan Borough Council Development Officer, North Tyneside Sure Start Strategic Partnership Headteacher, Marfleet Primary, Hull Headteacher, Thoresby Primary, Hull Training & Development Officer (Playwork), North Tyneside Sure Start Strategic Partnership Health Development Manager Birkenhead & Wirral Primary Care Trust NHS Programme Manager (Policy – England), SkillsActive Playwork Unit Programme Manager, Wirral Children’s Fund & On-Track Senior Play Community Worker, Children & Young People’s Services Wirral Metropolitan Borough Council Manager, Tower Hamlets Pathfinder Children’s Trust Director, Play Association Tower Hamlets Director, Leeds Play Network North Tyneside Children’s Fund Manager, Mile End Park, London Borough Tower Hamlets Headteacher, Buckingham Primary, Hull Senior Adviser (Partnerships and Planning) Wakefield Metropolitan District Council Principal Officer Community Liaison, Regeneration Dept. Wirral Metropolitan Borough Council



Acknowledgements (continued) Thanks also go to: Tracy Booth Claudia Fulchini Tim Gill Mark Gladwin Roger Hampshire Nicole Harwood Vicki Hunt Karen Kelly Peter Lamb Mark Lister Estelle MacDonald Jess Milne Libby Pearson Wendy Russell Leigh-Anne Stradeski Chris Snell John Sutton Ben Tawil

Librarian, Hull Central Children’s Library Creative Arts Worker, Replay Scrapstore Leeds Rethinking Childhood, Writer and Consultant Play Officer (Participation), Bradford Early Years & Childcare Service Crime Prevention Design Advisor (Oxfordshire), Thames Valley Police Play Strategy Officer, Sheffield City Council Wakefield & District Play Forum Head of Specialist Play Service, Birmingham Children’s Hospital Planning Manager Hull City Council Wakefield & District Play Forum Headteacher, Collingwood Primary, Hull Playground designer, Design & Build Play Extended Schools Coordinator, Lady Lumley’s School, Pickering Independent Playwork Consultant Director, Eureka! Play Development Officer, Leeds Play Network Technical Manager, National Play Bus Association Development Officer, Play Wales

Sam (aged 8), Barney (11), Elias (8), Ruby (6) and Ellie (11) and to Melissa Stephenson Junior Consultant, PLAYPEOPLE ~ taking play seriously



Introduction This project was originally conceived by the Wakefield and District Play Forum who, in common with many others in the play sector, had concluded that the Every Child Matters agenda may prove very significant in terms of local authority play provision and that the outcomes framework in particular, although providing some challenges, could also prove very useful. The forum contracted Marc Armitage, an independent Children’s Play Consultant working under the name PLAYPEOPLE ~ taking play seriously, to carry out fieldwork and write a final document. Funding was provided by Wakefield Children’s Fund. The fieldwork consisted of a number of group meetings and individual interviews with local authority officers from different councils around the country. A total of twenty-six officers from a variety of council departments were involved in this stage of the project. No assumptions were made at the beginning of the project about what form the final document should take but the fieldwork did suggest both a structure, purpose, and to a large extent the content of this eventual document which is aimed mainly but not exclusively at local authority officers around the United Kingdom. The document is not intended to provide a definitive statement on play provision by local authorities, or even on all the links there might be between play provision and the Every Child Matters Framework – what it is intended to be is a tool for discussion and development. It is suggested that groups of local authority officers use this document as an agenda and discussion tool in staff meetings, planning events, and partnership meetings to help them clarify the state of play provision by their own departments and others and identify gaps. It would be helpful if such meetings included officers from a variety of different departments and also play specialists from inside and/or outside the council structure.

Structure of the document The document is structured into three sections. SECTION 1 comprises of a number of short background texts. SECTION 2 and 3 provide the main basis for discussion – SECTION 2 places a number of Discussion Statements in a grid linked to the five Aims in each of the five Every Child Matters Outcomes. These have been made relevant to different local authority departments by organising the grids into four different places where children play – in parks and playgrounds, supervised settings, schools and hospitals, and the wider community. SECTION 3 comprises of 55 Discussion Statements in numerical order with a supporting quotation and a series of discussion points for each. To use the document, read the series of grids most appropriate to your department to identify which Discussion Statements relate most to you in SECTION 2 – then use the Discussion Statements in SECTION 3 as your agenda for debate. There are Discussion Statements relative to almost all areas of the local authority, including areas such as planning and traffic, for example. In addition, there is a separate series of grids covering the Performance Management key judgements in the Every Child Matters inspection process.



Background, Themes & Issues



The Difficulty with Play Defining ‘play’ is not easy, not least because it is a topic that interests so many different professional and academic groups, each of which brings its own special interests and at times alternative agendas to the subject. What may be more effective would be to consider those elements that are common or generally agreed as being ‘play’ across interest groups. Most definitions of play agree that it is

• Natural – it must be a natural process because everyone except the very seriously disabled do it, and even then some people with profound disabilities still exercise the desire to play.

• Essential – if we do not play while we are children there can be negative physical and social consequences that will affect us in our adults lives.

• Spontaneous – play seems to simply begin! But that is because children play all the time, which explains why they sometimes appear to play in the most inappropriate of places.

• Environmentally based – what and how children play is closely linked to the environment in which they find themselves. A supportive environment helps, an unsupportive environment hinders.

• Intrinsically motivated – the desire to play comes from within. Children, therefore, find it

impossible NOT to play, and attempts to stop them from doing so often fail. Because play is also such an intrinsic developmental process it is also a nonsense to say that today’s children have forgotten how to play – that would be similar to saying children have forgotten how to breathe. Children and young people on the other hand have little difficulty in defining what is and what play is not. In numerous consultation events and investigations into the lives of children, there is a consistency in their answer to this question: they report that play for them is what they do when no one else is telling them what to do. As such they value it highly. For a more detailed discussion on play and the benefits of play in a local authority context, see the Local Government Association Briefing Paper, Realising the potential of cultural services: the case for play (Research Briefing 12.6, November 2001), Local Government Association (www.lga.gov.uk)



Background to local authority involvement in providing play provision Although most local authorities have developed a considerable body of experience in providing play opportunities for younger children as part of wider early years services this is less so with the provision of play for older school age children. The reasons for this are largely historical: despite the argument that the requirements of the 1944 Education Act (reiterated in the 1996 Education Act) require local authorities to provide access to play opportunities outside of school hours (it actually calls on provision for youths in their leisure time) this point is ambiguous and many local authorities do not see this as being an obligation to their services. The provision of play therefore is effectively not a statutory requirement and the direct involvement in such provision varies greatly around the county. In some areas the local authority provides a play service within the council structure and works closely with the voluntary and non-statutory sectors; in others, the local authority sees its role as the provider of resources and the coordinator of other agencies who carry out most, if not all, of the direct provision; and in others the involvement of the local authority is virtually nil. As a result some local authorities have little experience and knowledge of the issues and practicalities involved in making good play provision for older children. There are some statutory services for children that local authorities do provide that have a direct bearing on the provision of play, such as compulsory schooling, for example. It is rare to find a school that does not have a playground and access to playtimes and lunchtimes. However, whereas there have been detailed regulations relating to minimum length of playtimes and the provision of school playgrounds since the early 19th Century, current education legislation provides no requirement for either of these – the 1996 Education (School Premises) Regulations removed all minimum standards for the size and equipping of playgrounds from the statue book and the 1996 Education Act makes no mention of the need for playtimes or breaks. Without statutory protection school playtimes have been progressively reduced and in many places children’s access to free play during the school day is in decline. The provision of parks, public playgrounds and open green spaces is probably the area that local authorities have the most experience in providing. In the case of public playgrounds in particular there has been a dramatic increase in the number of new playgrounds being built over the last decade as a result of new funding being made available, particularly through devolved contributions from housing developers and other regeneration related funding. There is evidence, however, that much of this new provision has been targeted at younger children with older children and teenagers not being so well provided for. Consultation exercises with children and young people also consistently report findings of conflict between adult and younger users of parks and green spaces. When such conflict arises it is usually children and young people who loose. In summary, the provision of play services and play provision for children, particularly older children and teenagers, has historically being patchy and often ill coordinated. The principle reason for this has been the lack of a clear statutory status for play.



The Every Child Matters Change for Children agenda

The introduction of the Children Act 2004 and the Every Child Matters – Change for Children Framework (ECM) that supports it has been seen as a potentially positive advance by the play sector (that body of professionals and organisations that work towards the provision of play services, mainly but not exclusively for school age children). However, there were initial concerns and confusion following the government’s reaction to national children and young people consultations on the Children’s Bill Green Paper: The consultations showed that what children and young people wanted was to have fun, and to have places to play and meet with friends – this was as true for teenagers as younger children. What this was translated as in the earlier drafts of the framework is that what children and young people wanted was the opportunity to engage in informal education! Sustained lobbying by the play sector during the passage of the Bill through Parliament, particularly by the Children’s Play Council, resulted in a subtle rewording and the inclusion of ‘play’ as a legitimate outcome within the Act and an inclusion of play within the ECM Outcomes Framework – notably in what has now become the Outcome Enjoy and Achieve. This position was enhanced in 2005 when Tessa Jowell, then Culture Secretary in the Department of Culture, Media and Sport, said “Both my department and the Department for Education and Skills believe that play, recreation and leisure outcomes sit equally alongside the others that authorities and their partners need to consider when making decisions about the provision of coordinated children and young peoples services.” The Every Child Matters agenda has produced something of a revolution in local authorities by requiring them to take a lead in establishing cross-cutting partnership working and joint budget pooling initiatives in the drive for more coordinated children’s services. This, and comments from central government such as that above, has effectively led to the provision of ‘play’ for children of all ages becoming a de facto requirement on local authorities.

10

Many in the play sector see this as a positive step as it potentially:

• Gives greater value and importance

to the role of play in the lives of children of all ages

• Provides greater coordination and cooperation on service delivery between different local authority departments and other agencies outside the council structure

• Provides access to additional funding opportunities and value for money through strategic working and joint budget pooling

• Provides a wider range of play services to children of all ages, but particularly older children and teenagers

• Provides a like-for-like measure of the provision of play services between local authorities Whether this becomes a reality will depend largely on the conduct of the Annual Performance Assessment and the Joint Area Reviews (JAR) as part of the national inspection process for the ECM agenda. Children and young people are already being closely involved in the JAR with Inspectors having an opportunity to speak to them directly, and in the case of some local authorities it is children and young people who will be guiding the Inspectors on tours to explore their day to day lives. However, as the inspections are in the main based on a local authority’s self-assessment, it is down to local authorities themselves to demonstrate just how progressive they are proving to be in providing play and wider services to their younger citizens.

11

The Play Agenda: Partnerships, Strategic working and the Dobson Review Central government interest in children’s play and the wider social world of children has had a mixed ride over successive parliaments under different political parties, but on the whole play has not been taken particularly seriously at Westminster. In more recent years, however, a number of related agendas have begun to come together – concerns over childhood obesity and healthy lifestyles, concerns over crime and anti-social behaviour, the introduction of more universal childcare, and the growth in early year’s education have all contributed to raising the profile of play in the lives of children. The Play Sector, in particular the Children’s Play Council, have contributed to this debate and has been increasingly effective in getting play on the agenda helping government to consider play in a broader context than they might otherwise have done. Devolved government, particularly for Wales and Scotland have also contributed and we now have national play organisations that are leading the debate still further in all four nations of the United Kingdom with serious interest shown by legislators at national level. In 2004 the Department of Culture Media and Sport commissioned and published the results of a nationwide assessment on the state of play provision chaired by Frank Dobson MP. The report, titled Getting Serious about Play – a Review of Children’s Play (but otherwise known as the Dobson Report) was to lead to recommendations on the spending of a promised £200 million from the new BIG Lottery Fund specifically for developing children’s play opportunities nationally. One of the report’s recommendations was that a local authority should adopt a strategic approach and promote partnership working to develop new play opportunities for children. This point fits well with the strategic working requirements of the race for wider children’s services under the ECM agenda, and has particular implications when it comes to a local authority receiving its fair share of the new lottery money – no evidence of strategic working, no funding. Establishing a specific local play partnership and constituting a wide ranging play strategy therefore brings both the prospect of significant new funding for play provision and the ECM agenda and satisfies the requirements of both.

12

The Inclusion Agenda: Play for all The National Review of Children’s Play (2004), otherwise known as the Dobson Report, recommended that projects seeking support through the BIG Lottery Children’s Fund should promote the inclusion of disabled children and young people within their setting as a requirement for funding. This is to be welcomed both as a move to increase the number and range of opportunities available to disabled children and as a mechanism for closer integration between the able-bodied and the disabled. This in itself is a massive topic that presents some serious challenges to success – but the issue of ‘inclusion’ is much broader still. There are other significant groups of hard to reach and disadvantaged children and young people who benefit greatly from access to good quality play opportunities in a range of different types of settings and situations but who face specific barriers to achieving access. Those who live in socially disadvantaged areas for example, as well as the children of travellers, refugees and asylum seekers, and those who face discrimination on racial or cultural grounds to name a few. When working through the groups of Discussion Statements the question of inclusion in its broadest terms should be considered in your debate – ask yourselves as you discuss each statement, “What children and young people might find difficult in accessing this form of play, why is this so, and what can we do to enable their greater access?”

13

Themes from the fieldwork Because the development and service delivery of play provision available to children in some local authority areas is delivered mainly by the voluntary and non-statutory sectors, the experience and knowledge of what forms of play provision and how it might be delivered varied considerably amongst officers in the fieldwork sessions. But all agreed that the introduction of the ECM Framework had concentrated their minds on this issue and for some was becoming an urgent issue to address. As one said, “Every Child Matters comes up in every single thing we do at the moment.” (north-east) The need to gather evidence came up often during the meetings but not in a very positive way. There was confusion in some places about what evidence was actually required, for example, “I’m not really sure what evidence there is out there.” (north-east). However, those spoken to were very sure that what they did not want was, “A document full of outcomes and indicators” (north-east) as they have “indicators and visions coming out of our ears” (north-west). What was felt to be more useful was a document that ‘points the way’ as far as to what sort of play services were possible and an indication of how they might fit in the ECM Outcomes Framework. The need for “a simple document, laid out simply and easy to read” (north-east) was also stressed rather than anything complicated and fancy. The general question of raising the issues about play provision and learning more about what the possibilities were was felt to be much more significant and in the long term more useful. Those at the meetings represented a broad range of different departments but some areas where noticeably absent from the group meetings. Those present reacted to this with comments such as, “This is everyone’s agenda – right through to the planning officer – everyone needs to have play on their agenda” (north-west); and “We must say to planning officers, ‘Look, this impacts on you too’!” (north-east). They felt that was needed was to, “… get people to focus.” (London) and by that they meant fellow colleagues from within the council structure. Receiving a document on its own was felt by some, particularly those with limited experience in play matters, to be less useful than contact with others who did have experience. “This needs to be translated into some kind of face-to-face training or briefing session.” (north-west). This included Headteachers, “Some kind of play seminar linking why play is important and where it fits [would be useful.” (Hull Headteacher). However, many non-schools people felt that “… the langue might be off putting for people like those from housing, for example.” (north-west) which for them meant the language was far too education based. Interestingly, those from school did not generally agree with this. The few play officers present at the group meetings had very firm ideas about the possibilities in the ECM Framework. “This gives us the opportunity to beat the drum – to legitimise play and playwork and its importance.” (north-west) said one, and another said, “I’m beginning to talk to people I never even knew existed before.” (London).

14

Those who have already experienced inspections on the framework said that, “Play was looked at very closely by the inspectors, with them asking lots of questions such as ‘how does this make a difference to children’s lives. But these points have not made it through to the JAR Report.” (northwest). Others noted that, “Inspections differ everywhere. It largely depends on the inspector’s interests … and background.” (London). This seems to imply that the like-for-like comparison that the play sector thought might result from the inspection process may not be so realistic a prospect. This left some feeling that most of their efforts in developing play provision should be seen as more of a local issue – the fact that they may be inspected on this nationally was almost incidental. However, the ECM Framework was agreed by all to be a useful structure on which set targets and monitoring. Headteachers and senior teachers in schools seem to be more relaxed than their other local authority colleagues about the whole ECM agenda. Despite the fact that, “There’s a very definite tension between the ‘fun’ things in school and attainment. But I see it more about using everyone’s skills and experiences to deliver more for local communities.” (Yorkshire) Interestingly, whereas almost all the non-schools officers were looking at the five ECM outcomes as having equal significance (although some worried about how ‘Economic Well-Being’ fitted into their role) the majority of Headteachers interviewed felt that there was really only one significant issue to tackle, “When we started planning for this we started with a big piece of paper that said ‘enjoy’ on the top.” (Hull Headteacher). Another said, “Standards and achievement are at the top of the inspection process – enjoyment is at the top of mine but when it comes down to it they are all the same thing.” (Hull Headteacher). One Headteacher when asked if that meant that in failing schools children are not ‘enjoying he said firmly, “Yes, and it means the attitudes are all wrong – enjoyment is motivation, is high self esteem.” (Hull Headteacher). At least part of the reason for this might be that none of the Headteachers felt that the ECM Framework was not very new to them – in fact most felt that all they had had to do was place existing evidence already gathered into the context of the five outcomes, “We’ve done nothing new, and we’re not going to do anything different.” (Hull Headteacher) “ The results of the fieldwork were revealing and it dictated the overall aims of this document which are:

• To promote the value and importance of local authority involvement in providing play provision

• To provide a ‘pointer’, an indication of what could be done • To act as a tool for discussion within the local authority structure • To link types of play provision to the ECM Outcomes framework • To provide links to existing play related documents and helpful contacts

15

Play & the Outcomes Framework

16

Parks & Playgrounds This section relates to play that takes place in public playgrounds, public parks and green spaces, and adventure play settings. There are five pages in all – one for each of the ECM Outcomes. A more detailed explanation of each the Discussion Statements can be found in SECTION C. Those boxes in pale grey do not have any Discussion Statements related to them. Please note there is some overlap with adventure play between this section and the section on Supervised Play Settings. This section relates to local authority departments such as:

• Parks and Playgrounds • Countryside • Parks and Countryside Wardens/Rangers • Play Service • Community Safety

17

Parks & Playgrounds Being Healthy

Statement – 1 “Children & Young People have access to a range of good quality public parks & playgrounds that are close to home.”

Being Physically Healthy

Statement – 2 “Children & Young People have access to adventurous play.”

Being Mentally and Emotionally Healthy

Statement – 3 “Older Children & Teenagers have access to a range of good quality youth type provision that is close to home.” Statement – 4 “Children & Young People have access to play settings that are accessible and inclusive.”

Being Sexually Healthy

Statement – 5 “Playworkers and others who work with children have access to training in recognising signs of personal stress & possible mental health problems; how to deal with it and/or the local referral policy.”

Having Healthy Lifestyles

Statement – 6 “Children and Young people have the opportunity to play outside regularly.” Statement – 7 “Children & Young People have the opportunity to meet, socialise and play with friends and others.”

Choosing not to take Illegal Drugs

18

Parks & Playgrounds Being Safe

Statement – 8 “Playworkers and others working with children are adequately vetted and receive CRB checks.”

Being safe from maltreatment, neglect, violence & sexual exploitation

Statement – 9 “Children & Young People have access to supervised and unsupervised play settings that are free of unacceptable hazards.”

Being safe from accidental injury and death

Statement – 1 “Children & Young People have access to a range of good quality public playgrounds that are close to home.”

Being safe from bullying & discrimination

Statement – 10 “Children & Young People have access to Play Rangers and street play schemes in their local neighbourhood.” Statement – 11 “Play settings and other settings where children spend their time work through a recognised play-led Quality Assurance Scheme.”

Being safe from crime & anti social behaviour in & out of school

Statement – 12 “Children & Young People have access to trained and qualified Playworkers.”

Having security, stability & being cared for

19

Parks & Playgrounds Enjoying and achieving

Ready for School Statement – 7 “Children & Young People have the opportunity to meet, socialise and play with friends and others.”

Attend and enjoy school

Statement – 13 “The local authority actively promotes the importance & value of play for Children & Young People of all ages.”

Achieve stretching education standards at primary school

Statement – 12 “Children & Young People have access to trained and qualified Playworkers.”

Statement – 6 “Children and Young people have the opportunity to play outside regularly.”

Achieve personal and social development and enjoy recreation

Statement – 14a “Children & Young People have access to informal places to play that are recognised as such and are protected.”

Achieve stretching educational standards at secondary school

20

Parks & Playgrounds Making a Positive Contribution

Statement – 15 “Children & Young People are involved & consulted on the location, design & development of new & existing public playgrounds.”

Engage in decision making & support the community & environment

Statement – 16 “The local authority provides a strategic approach to developing local playground provision.”

Engage in law abiding & positive behaviour in & out of school

Statement – 2 “Children & Young People have access to adventurous play.” Statement – 3 “Older Children & Teenagers have access to a range of good quality youth type provision that is close to home.”

Develop positive relationships & choose not to bully

Statement – 7 “Children & Young People have the opportunity to meet, socialise and play with friends and others.”

Develop self confidence & successfully deal with significant life changes & challenges

Statement – 12 “Children & Young People have access to trained and qualified Playworkers.” Statement – 7 “Children & Young People have the opportunity to meet, socialise and play with friends and others.”

Develop enterprising behaviour

Statement – 11 “Play settings and other settings where children spend their time work through a recognised play-led Quality Assurance Scheme.”

21

Parks & Playgrounds

Achieving Economic Well-Being

Engage in further education, employment or training on leaving school

Ready for employment

Statement – 10 “Children & Young People have access to Play Rangers and street play schemes in their local neighbourhood.”

Live in decent homes & sustainable communities

Statement – 1 “Children & Young People have access to a range of good quality public playgrounds that are close to home.”

Access to transport & material goods

Statement – 16 “The local authority provides a strategic approach to developing local playground provision.” Statement – 18 “Children & Young People have access to a range of play opportunities that are free at the point of entry.”

Live in households free from low income

22

Supervised Play Settings This section relates to play that takes place in supervised play settings such as nurseries and playgroups, after school schemes, and mobile projects. There are five pages in all – one for each of the ECM Outcomes. A more detailed explanation of each the Discussion Statements can be found in SECTION C. Those boxes in pale grey do not have any Discussion Statements related to them. Please note there is some overlap with adventure play between this section and the section on Parks and Playgrounds. This section relates to local authority departments such as:



Early Years



Play Service



Youth Service



Family Services



Community Development

23

Supervised Play Settings Being Healthy

Statement – 1 “Children & Young People have access to a range of good quality public parks & playgrounds that are close to home.”

Being Physically Healthy

Statement – 19 “Children & young people have access to mobile play projects.”

Being Mentally and Emotionally Healthy

Statement – 3 “Older Children & Teenagers have access to a range of good quality youth type provision that is close to home.” Statement – 4 “Children & Young People have access to play settings that are accessible and inclusive.”

Being Sexually Healthy

Statement – 5 “Playworkers and others who work with children have access to training in recognising signs of personal stress & possible mental health problems; how to deal with it and/or the local referral policy.”

Having Healthy Lifestyles

Statement – 7 “Children & Young People have the opportunity to meet, socialise and play with friends and others.”

Choosing not to take Illegal Drugs

24

Supervised Play Settings Being Safe

Statement – 8 “Playworkers and others working with children are adequately vetted and receive CRB checks.”

Being safe from maltreatment, neglect, violence & sexual exploitation

Statement – 9 “Children & Young People have access to supervised and unsupervised play settings that are free of unacceptable hazards.”

Being safe from accidental injury and death

Being safe from bullying & discrimination

Statement – 11 “Play settings and other settings where children spend their time work through a recognised play-led Quality Assurance Scheme.”

Being safe from crime & anti social behaviour in & out of school

Statement – 12 “Children & Young People have access to trained and qualified Playworkers.”

Having security, stability & being cared for

25

Supervised Play Settings Enjoying and achieving

Ready for School

Attend and enjoy school

Achieve stretching education standards at primary school

Statement – 7 “Children & Young People have the opportunity to meet, socialise and play with friends and others.” Statement – 20 “Children & Young People have access to a range of different playschemes and special play events.”

Achieve personal and social development and enjoy recreation

Statement – 12 “Children & Young People have access to trained and qualified Playworkers.”

Achieve stretching educational standards at secondary school

26

Supervised Play Settings Making a Positive Contribution

Engage in decision making & support the community & environment

Statement – 21 “Children & Young People are involved and consulted in the organisation and management of their supervised play setting.” Statement – 3 “Older Children & Teenagers have access to a range of good quality youth type provision that is close to home.”

Engage in law abiding & positive behaviour in & out of school

Statement – 7 “Children & Young People have the opportunity to meet, socialise and play with friends and others.”

Develop positive relationships & choose not to bully

Statement – 12 “Children & Young People have access to trained and qualified Playworkers.”

Develop self confidence & successfully deal with significant life changes & challenges

Statement – 7 “Children & Young People have the opportunity to meet, socialise and play with friends and others.”

Develop enterprising behaviour

Statement – 11 “Play settings and other settings where children spend their time work through a recognised play-led Quality Assurance Scheme.”

27

Supervised Play Settings Achieving Economic Well-Being

Statement – 22 “Young people have the opportunity for play training & education and job opportunities in the play sector.”

Engage in further education, employment or training on leaving school

Statement – 23 “Young People have access to volunteering opportunities.”

Ready for employment

Statement – 24 “Children and Young People have access to a range of good quality supervised play provision close to home.”

Live in decent homes & sustainable communities

Statement – 17 “The local authority adopts an effective Play Strategy & Action Plan linked to the local Children & Young People’s Plan.”

Access to transport & material goods

Statement – 18 “Children & Young People have access to a range of play opportunities that are free at the point of entry.”

Live in households free from low income

28

Schools & Hospitals This section relates to play that takes place in institutional settings such as schools and hospitals. There are five pages in all – one for each of the ECM Outcomes. A more detailed explanation of each the Discussion Statements can be found in SECTION C. Those boxes in pale grey do not have any Discussion Statements related to them. This section relates to local authority departments such as:

• Education Service • Behaviour Support Service • Special Schools • Primary Schools • Secondary Schools • Hospitals, Clinics, GPs Surgeries, and Dentists • Primary Care Trusts

29

Schools and Hospitals Being Healthy

Statement – 25 “Children & Young People are able to walk or cycle to school, in the company of adults and independently.”

Being Physically Healthy

Statement – 26 “Children & Young People have access to a good quality outdoor environment that provides for their play, social & recreational needs at primary & secondary school.”

Being Mentally and Emotionally Healthy

Statement – 29 Children & Young People are able to play while in hospital, at clinics, GPs and dentists surgeries.” Statement – 4 “Children & Young People have access to play settings that are accessible and inclusive.”

Being Sexually Healthy

Statement – 5 “Playworkers and others who work with children have access to training in recognising signs of personal stress & possible mental health problems; how to deal with it and/or the local referral policy.”

Having Healthy Lifestyles

Statement – 7 “Children & Young People have the opportunity to meet, socialise and play with friends and others.” Statement – 27 “Children and Young People at primary & secondary school have access to playtimes and lunchtimes that are enjoyable and which meet their play, social & recreational needs.”

Choosing not to take Illegal Drugs

30

Schools & Hospitals Being Safe

Statement – 8 “Playworkers and others working with children are adequately vetted and receive CRB checks.”

Being safe from maltreatment, neglect, violence & sexual exploitation

Statement – 9 “Children & Young People have access to supervised and unsupervised play settings that are free of unacceptable hazards.”

Being safe from accidental injury and death

Statement – 25 “Children & Young People are able to walk or cycle to school, in the company of adults and independently.”

Being safe from bullying & discrimination

Statement – 11 “Play settings and other settings where children spend their time work through a recognised play-led Quality Assurance Scheme.”

Being safe from crime & anti social behaviour in & out of school

Statement – 28 “School Midday Supervisors have access to play training.” Statement – 12 “Children & Young People have access to trained and qualified Playworkers.”

Having security, stability & being cared for

31

Schools & Hospitals Enjoying and achieving

Statement – 30 “Children & Young People have access to play-led transition projects as they move from primary to secondary school.”

Ready for School

Statement – 31 “Children in the Foundation Stage at school and day care settings have access to a good quality outdoor play environment & spend significant time there.”

Attend and enjoy school

Statement – 32 “Primary & secondary schools & Hospitals have a statement and/or policy on play & recreation during the school day/during attendance.”

Achieve stretching education standards at primary school

Statement – 7 “Children & Young People have the opportunity to meet, socialise and play with friends and others.” Statement – 27 “Children and Young People at primary & secondary school have access to playtimes and lunchtimes that are enjoyable and which meets their play, social & recreational needs.”

Achieve personal and social development and enjoy recreation

Statement – 28 “School Midday Supervisors have access to play training.”

Achieve stretching educational standards at secondary school

32

Schools & Hospitals

Making a Positive Contribution Statement – 33 “Children & Young People are involved & consulted on the design & development of the outdoor environment at school.”

Engage in decision making & support the community & environment

Statement – 34 “Children & Young People have access to a representative school council at primary & secondary school.”

Engage in law abiding & positive behaviour in & out of school

Statement – 35 “Children & Young People support others at school and at hospital.” Statement – 36 “Children & Young People have access to school grounds & other school facilities outside of school hours.”

Develop positive relationships & choose not to bully

Statement – 7 “Children & Young People have the opportunity to meet, socialise and play with friends and others.”

Develop self confidence & successfully deal with significant life changes & challenges

Statement – 30 “Children & Young People have access to play-led transition projects as they move from primary to secondary school.” Statement – 11 “Play settings and other settings where children spend their time work through a recognised play-led Quality Assurance Scheme.”

Develop enterprising behaviour

33

Schools & Hospitals

Achieving Economic Well-Being

Statement – 7 “Children & Young People have the opportunity to meet, socialise and play with friends and others.”

Engage in further education, employment or training on leaving school

Statement – 22 “Young people have the opportunity for play training & education and job opportunities in the play sector.”

Ready for employment

Statement – 23 “Young People have access to volunteering opportunities.”

Statement – 36 “Children & Young People have access to school grounds & other school facilities outside of school hours.”

Live in decent homes & sustainable communities

Access to transport & material goods

Statement – 18 “Children & Young People have access to a range of play opportunities that are free at the point of entry.”

Live in households free from low income

34

The Wider Community This section relates to play that takes place in place in the home, local neighbourhoods, town and city centres, and other places where children visit such as museums and libraries. There are five pages in all – one for each of the ECM Outcomes. A more detailed explanation of each the Discussion Statements can be found in SECTION C. Those boxes in pale grey do not have any Discussion Statements related to them. Please note there is some overlap with adventure play between this section and the section on Parks and Playgrounds. This section relates to local authority departments such as:

• Cultural, Heritage, Music, Museums and Galleries Service • Sports Development • Community Safety • Traffic • Planning • Housing and Regeneration • City Centre Management • Shops and Shopping Centres

35

The Wider Community Being Healthy

Statement – 37 “Children and Young People have access to child-friendly and play-friendly city and town centres, shopping centres, parks and public spaces”

Being Physically Healthy

Statement – 39 “Children & Young People have access to safe streets and play-friendly home neighbourhoods”

Being Mentally and Emotionally Healthy

Statement –38 “Children & Young People are able to freely move around their neighbourhoods & communities on foot, cycle or public transport.” Statement – 40 “Children & Young People are able to play at home.”

Being Sexually Healthy

Statement – 4 “Children & Young People have access to play settings that are accessible and inclusive.”

Having Healthy Lifestyles Statement – 6 “Children and Young people have the opportunity to play outside regularly.” Statement – 7 “Children & Young People have the opportunity to meet, socialise and play with friends and others.”

Choosing not to take Illegal Drugs

36

The Wider Community Being Safe

Statement – 10 “Children & Young People have access to Play Rangers and street play schemes in their local neighbourhood.”

Being safe from maltreatment, neglect, violence & sexual exploitation

Statement – 13 “The local authority actively promotes the importance & value of play for Children & Young People of all ages.”

Being safe from accidental injury and death

Statement – 42 “The local authority promotes local community stewardship & involvement in community facilities.”

Being safe from bullying & discrimination

Statement – 39 “Children & Young People have access to safe streets and play-friendly home neighbourhoods” Statement – 38 “Children & Young People are able to freely move around their neighbourhoods & communities on foot, cycle or public transport.”

Being safe from crime & anti social behaviour in & out of school

Statement – 10 “Children & Young People have access to Play Rangers and street play schemes in their local neighbourhood.”

Having security, stability & being cared for

37

The Wider Community Enjoying and achieving

Ready for School

Attend and enjoy school

Statement – 43 “Children & Young People have access to play friendly cultural places to visit such as museums, galleries & libraries, etc.”

Achieve stretching education standards at primary school

Statement – 6 “Children and Young people have the opportunity to play outside regularly.”

Statement – 14a “Children & Young People have access to informal places to play that are recognised as such and are protected.”

Achieve personal and social development and enjoy recreation

Statement – 40 “Children & Young People have the opportunity to play at home.”

Achieve stretching educational standards at secondary school

Statement – 43 “Children & Young People have access to play friendly cultural places to visit such as museums, galleries & libraries, etc.”

38

The Wider Community Making a Positive Contribution

Statement – 42 “The local authority promotes local community stewardship & involvement in community facilities.”

Engage in decision making & support the community & environment

Statement – 51 “Children & Young People are actively engaged in decision making, planning, managing & monitoring policy, strategy & services, and their views are taken seriously.”

Engage in law abiding & positive behaviour in & out of school

Statement – 13 “The local authority actively promotes the importance & value of play for Children & Young People of all ages.”

Develop positive relationships & choose not to bully

Statement – 7 “Children & Young People have the opportunity to meet, socialise and play with friends and others.”

Develop self confidence & successfully deal with significant life changes & challenges

Develop enterprising behaviour

39

The Wider Community Achieving Economic Well-Being

Statement – 7 “Children & Young People have the opportunity to meet, socialise and play with friends and others.”

Engage in further education, employment or training on leaving school

Statement – 1 “Children & Young People have access to a range of good quality public parks & playgrounds that are close to home.”

Ready for employment

Statement – 24 “Children and Young People have access to a range of good quality supervised play provision close to home.” Statement – 36 “Children & Young People have access to school grounds & other school facilities outside of school hours.”

Live in decent homes & sustainable communities

Statement – 39 “Children & Young People have access to safe streets and play-friendly home neighbourhoods”

Access to transport & material goods

Statement – 41 “Children & Young People of all ages have access to scrapstores, play equipment loan schemes & toy libraries.” Statement – 18 “Children & Young People have access to a range of play opportunities that are free at the point of entry.”

Live in households free from low income

40

Service Management This section relates to play that takes place in place in the home, local neighbourhoods, town and city centres, and other places where children visit such as museums and libraries. There are five pages in all – one for each of the ECM Outcomes. A more detailed explanation of each the Discussion Statements can be found in SECTION C. Those boxes in pale grey do not have any Discussion Statements related to them. Please note there is some overlap with adventure play between this section and the section on Parks and Playgrounds. This section relates to local authority departments such as:

• Cultural, Heritage, Music, Museums and Galleries Service • Sports Development • Community Safety • Traffic • Planning • Housing and Regeneration • City Centre Management • Shops and Shopping Centres

41

Service Management

Statement – 44 “The local authority adopts relevant national & International policy & standards.” Statement – 17 “The local authority adopts an effective Play Strategy & Action Plan linked to the local Children & Young People’s Plan.”

Ambition

Statement – 45 “The local authority carries out a broad audit of current play provision and service providers.”

Statement – 17 “The local authority adopts an effective Play Strategy & Action Plan linked to the local Children & Young People’s Plan.” Statement – 46 “The local authority provides or supports a local play partnership body made up of relevant partners in the statutory, voluntary & private sectors.

Prioritisation

Statement – 47 “The local authority provides a Play Officer of a sufficiently high grade to administer the Play Strategy.”

42

Service Management Statement – 48 “The local authority provides or supports a local Play Service.” Statement – 49 “The local authority provides or supports a local play network organisation.” Statement – 50 “Children & Young People have access to National Play Day events.”

Capacity

Statement – 14b “Children & Young People’s Impact Assessments are carried out before changes to local policy, and at the planning stage of regeneration & building projects.” Statement – 51 “Children & Young People are actively engaged in decision making, planning, managing & monitoring policy, strategy & services, and their views are taken seriously.”

Statement – 53 “Children, Young People & play professionals are represented on relative working groups & strategic bodies.”

Performance Management

Statement – 52 “The local authority produces a regular local ‘State of Children’s Play Report.” Statement – 54 “The local authority provides ‘child friendly’ updates and progress towards completion of the Play Strategy.”

43

The Discussion Statements

44

The Discussion Statements This section of the document reproduces the – Discussion Statements in numerical order. Each Statement is supported by a quotation from an experienced individual or relevant publication and a number of discussion bullet points. Once again, these discussion points are not exhaustive but are meant to provide a starting point for debate and exploration. The Discussion Statements could be used as part of a staff meeting, a development session, or as part of a specially convened partnership debate. To learn more about the issues raised in the Discussion Statements make a web search using keywords selected from the Statement. It would be useful if any such meeting included one or more play specialists as it is accepted that some forms of play provision raised may be new to many local authority people. Many local authority areas have a play specialist local network organisation and there are regional networks across the country. To help identify what organisations might be useful and to learn more about some of the forms of play provision in the statements a first port of call should be the websites of a national play organisations. Each of the four nations in the United Kingdom has a national organisation for play. These are:

• Play England - www.playengland.org.uk • Play Scotland - www playscotland.org.uk • Play Wales - www.playwales.org.uk • Play Board Northern Ireland - www.playboard.org Other national organisations:

• Playwork Training and Education Unit at SkillsActive (the National Training Organisation representing play) - www.playwork.org.uk

45

Statement 1 “Children & Young People have access to a range of good quality public parks & playgrounds that are close to home.” “Local authorities have traditionally provided public playgrounds as places for children to play – for playground services it is children who are our core users, and those children and young people need such places where they can incrementally develop their skills and their independence, enjoying a quality play experience that is free at the point of delivery.” Peter Lamb, Planning Manager Hull City Council www.hullcc.gov.uk

Some issues for discussion: •

Children & Young People like traditional types of play equipment, such as swings, roundabouts and

climbing frames; but their favourite play environments are natural places with trees, grasses, flowers, rocks, and water. The most successful playgrounds provide for both.

• Location is the most important factor in a playground being well used or not. A good playground in the wrong place will not receive much use but even a poor playground in the right place will.

• Parks and playgrounds that are close to home and which can be seen from housing and well used paths are more popular than those in tucked away places on the edges of housing. Hidden playgrounds also receive more damage and vandalism.

• There is a tendency amongst some adults to see playgrounds as being for children but the wider park setting as being for adults. This is a point that often causes friction between the generations.

46

Statement 2 “Children & Young People have access to adventurous play.” “Adventurous play needs an environment that is non prescriptive and offers enough breadth and depth of experience so as to enable children and young people to challenge themselves and one another. Being able to freely experiment with a range of variables found in an adventurous environment not only develops their physical skills and their ability to deal with risk, but it also helps children and young people to experiment with their social skills, and concepts like morals, citizenship, responsibility and their personal behaviour and interpersonal relationships In short a truly experiential developmental process.” Ben Tawil, Development Officer, Play Wales www.playwales.org.uk

Some issues for discussion: • Adventure playgrounds are very different to public playgrounds. They are staffed places to play that combine rigorous physical types of play such climbing and swinging combined with opportunities to use tools, to build dens and big structures, light fires, and play with water as well as play games.

• Adventurous play is very popular with older children and teenagers especially, but it appeals to all ages as a place where children feel a sense of freedom and a have opportunities to explore and experiment with the world around them.

• Adventure playgrounds and other types of adventurous play have often been used as a diversion from nuisance crime and more serious offences to great effect.

• London has a significant number of adventure playgrounds of various different types. Contact London Play, the play organisation for the nation’s capital for more information (www.londonplay.org. uk).

47

Statement 3 “Older Children & Teenagers have access to a range of good quality youth type provision that is close to home.” “The main thing that young people want to do is meet and socialise with their friends in the evening. When they were younger they would do that in the playgrounds, but now they find adults saying to them, ‘you’re too big for there, get out!’ Or they are told not to hang around shops or the back of the community centre. We must continue to provide suitable facilities for these young people, and that includes things such as youth shelters and ball games areas. Research has shown that the more provision older children have the more it diverts them from the possibilities of crime.” Roger Hampshire, Crime Prevention Design Advisor (Oxfordshire), Thames Valley Police www.thamesvalley.police.uk/crime-reduction/shelters.htm

Some issues for discussion: •

Young people, teenagers in particular, can be noisy, obnoxious and destructive when they gather

in groups. However, this has always been the case and in many respects this is just as much of a developmental stage that young people go through as is the ‘terrible two’s’ for younger children.

• Young people say they often gather in groups because this is what makes them feel safer. This is also the reason they gather in light places outdoors where there are other people around that can provide help if needed. Shops and shopping centres fulfil both these points.

• Youth shelters and provision such as ball play areas and skateboard ramps are very popular with young people, but placing spaces such as this in tucked away areas means they will receive little use.

• Making outdoor provision for teenagers can be difficult as adult concerns and fears are often given a priority over the needs of those young people. However, far from increasing nuisance, such provision can reduce it dramatically.

48

Statement 4 “Children & Young People have access to play settings that are accessible and inclusive.” “In order for all children to have access to effective and inclusive play provision, providers must recognize that play is the common currency of childhood for each and every child and that every child needs to play in a range of different ways at different stages of development in order reach her/his full potential. If you use a wheelchair, if you have autistic spectrum disorder, if you are part of the Traveller Community, if you are seeking asylum from a war- torn country, or if you are the future King of England … you still need to play.” Melissa Stephenson PLAYPEOPLE ~ taking play seriously www.playpeople.se

Some issues for discussion: • Whereas they may always be a need for specialist facilities for some groups of children, the ideal would be for all play settings of all types to be fully inclusive and accessible for all.

• For disabled children in particular, having provision close to home makes that provision more accessible than a centralised setting far from the childs home. This is especially true of public playgrounds which are often rarely used by disabled children.

• The separation, deliberate or otherwise, of some groups of children from each other promotes misunderstanding and discrimination. Inclusive settings are a starting point for understanding and cooperation.

• Some children who face discrimination and exclusion from play provision are also often at great risk of health harming levels of stress. Children such as those living in sheltered accommodation, travellers, and the children of asylum seekers for example often loose out on access to good play provision.

• The national organisation, Kids have an online inclusion checklist for play settings (www.kids-online. org.uk/ndd/publications/index.html).

49

Statement 5 “Playworkers and others who work with children have access to training in recognising signs of personal stress & possible mental health problems how to deal with it and/or the local referral policy.” “It is easy for parents to identify their child’s physical needs: nutritious food, warm clothes when it’s cold, bedtime at a reasonable hour. However, a child’s mental and emotional needs may not be as obvious. Good mental health allows children to think clearly, develop socially and learn new skills. Additionally, good friends and encouraging words from adults are all important for helping children develop self confidence, high self-esteem, and a healthy emotional outlook on life.” National Mental Health Foundation, (on-line factsheet) www.nmha.org/infoctr/factsheets/72.cfm

Some issues for discussion: • The role of play in supporting children’s physical health has been well recognised for many years, but the important role play has in relieving stress and improving mental health is becoming more recognised and valued.

• The number of children being reported with forms of depression and mental health problems has been increasing steadily in recent decades.

• Generally speaking, happy children have more chance of becoming happy adults. Playing and socialising with friends on their own terms and for their own agenda is what children and young people say makes them happy.

50

Statement 6 “Children and Young people have the opportunity to play outside regularly.” “… walking and playing provide children with more physical activity than most other events … Encouraging children to be out of the house will increase their physical activity.” Roger Mackett, Making Children’s Lives more active. Centre for Transport Studies, University College London, August 2004.

Some issues for discussion: •

Levels of childhood obesity and general ill health and fitness have been increasing steadily in

recent decades. There is temptation amongst some adults to blame children themselves for this, citing the effect of the television, computer games and generally inactivity as the case.

• However, children’s freedom to play out has been severely restricted in the same period; car usage has increased and school playtimes have been reduced by at least half since 1971.

• Attempting to substitute children’s opportunity to play freely outside with adult organised, mainly indoor provision is not only costly but may also be less effective. Children are usually more physically active during free play than they are at organised sports sessions and PE lessons.

51

Statement 7 “Children & Young People have the opportunity to meet, socialise and play with friends and others.” “If we stop and ask any random adult, ‘Where was your favourite place to play when you where a child?’ almost all of them will mention an outdoor place and even city people will mention places with trees, grass, hills and water. It is in these outdoor places we spent time with our friends - time that seemed to pass in an instant. What makes any of us think that the current generation of children does not want the same, or deserves it?” Marc Armitage, PLAYPEOPLE ~ taking play seriously www.playpeople.se

Some issues for discussion: • Friends and friendship groups are a central and key part in the lives of children and young people and provide a contribution to children’s health and happiness. A successful play setting will acknowledge this and allow children space and time to spend with their friends.

• When friendships break down children can find themselves lost and unhappy and staff in supervised settings may find that some react to this by becoming quiet and solitary, whereas others maybe become aggressive and angry. It is at times like this when playworkers knowledge of the friendship groups and changes in friends within the setting can be invaluable.

• Friendship groups that split into factions can sometimes be as a result of or a cause of bullying.

52

Statement 8 “Playworkers and others working with children are adequately vetted and receive CRB checks.” “All reputable organisations providing play, child-care and recreational services to children (be they local authority, voluntary sector or commercial organisations) want to be sure that the people they employ or who volunteer to work with children in their care are as suitable to have continuous and close access to children and young people as a system can devise, and their management practices are conducive to child protection.” Fair Play for Children www.arunet.co.uk/fairplay/child_p.htm

Some issues for discussion: • All settings where volunteers and paid staff come into contact with children should have proper vetting procedures and Criminal Records Bureaux checks made as part of their registration requirements. In addition a good setting will have other policies and procedures that guard against the risk of abuse.

• Some parents may express concern at their children being in contact with adults they do not know well, especially male workers. However, the real risks of abuse to children come not from strangers or professional workers but from people within their own families.

53

Statement 9 “Children & Young People have access to supervised and unsupervised play settings that are free of unacceptable hazards.” “Children need and want to take risks when they play. Play provision aims to respond to these needs and wishes by offering children stimulating, challenging environments for exploring and developing their abilities. In doing this, play provision aims to manage the level of risk so that children are not exposed to unacceptable risks of death or injury.” Play Safety Forum (August 2002) Managing risk in play provision: A position statement www.ncb.org.uk/cpc

Some issues for discussion: • Children and young people seek risk and the thrill of potentially dangerous experiences when playing. This might be of concern to some adults but opportunities for children and young people to experience risk and stretch themselves to the limit of their experience are an important part of the development process.

• The real danger to children comes not necessarily from risk but from the dangers of avoidable hazards. A good play setting will have policies and procedures in place that will remove such hazards but leave a necessary element of risk.

• Risk in play should be put into context – a child has more chance of having an accident in the home, at school, or in an organised sports event than while playing with friends. The most significant danger to children’s health comes not from playing but from the motor car.

• Two specialist safety organisations with play connections are the Royal Society for the Prevention of Accidents (www.rospa.org.uk) and the Child Accident Prevention Trust (www.capt.org.uk)

54

Statement 10 “Children & Young People have access to Play Rangers and street play schemes in their local neighbourhood.” “Play rangers and street play schemes help to legitimise local shared space as play space and thereby enhance children’s enjoyment of their neighbourhoods as well as encouraging interaction with other children and across the generations. Street play schemes increase the range of things that children can do, especially for those children who would not normally cross the threshold of community play facilities.” Chris Snell, Play Development Officer, Leeds Play Network www.leedsplaynetwork.org.uk

Some issues for discussion: • Play Rangers are specially trained playworkers who do not usually work inside – they work in playgrounds, recreation fields and in the streets enabling children and young people to play freely outside their own homes and mediating in conflict with adults.

• We now have neighbourhoods where very few adults spend time outside so the informal supervision of each others children which may have been taken for granted in the past is now less so in some areas. Play Rangers return a friendly adult eye to the local neighbourhood.

• Street play schemes take the form of boxes of play equipment for loan based with a local adult in the neighbourhood but they can also include bigger projects aimed at making it easier for children to play in the street itself.

55

Statement 11 “Play settings and other settings where children spend their time work through a recognised play-led Quality Assurance Scheme.” “Working through an endorsed quality assurance scheme that is play focussed provides a setting with a tool for reflection, evaluation and improvement that places the ‘child at play’ at the centre of what the setting does as well as giving the a setting external validation for what they do and how they do it.” Wendy Russell, Independent Playwork Consultant

Some issues for discussion: • A Quality Assurance scheme provides a local authority and parents with a benchmark against which to assess the quality of a play setting. A play specific QA scheme places play at the top of the list of what the setting does. However, such schemes should not be restricted purely to a play setting – schools, cultural settings and sports centres, among other places where children spend their time, would find such a scheme useful.

• Working through a play specific QA scheme encourages a setting to explore the way it works as well as what it provides. It allows playworkers and others who work with children to discuss and address issues that may not be directly related to play but which can be used as a training tool to improve good practice.

• There are, for example, no Statements attached to the Every Child Matters aims on ‘Being Sexually Healthy’ or on ‘Choosing not to take Illegal Drugs’ in this document. However, both of these are topics that will come up in a play setting. Working through a QA scheme helps a setting and individual workers discuss this in context and agree upon a reaction.

• The two best know play specific Quality Assurance Schemes are ‘Quality in Play (QiP)’ administered by London Play (www.londonplay.org.uk), and ‘First Claim’ administered by Play Wales (www.playwales.org.uk).

56

Statement 12 “Children & Young People have access to trained and qualified Playworkers.” “[There is a] new vision of providing community services throughout childhood [which] requires a programme of reform and sustained development across the age range. It underpins the development of children’s centres and extended/community school models backed by the framework for integrated children’s services embodied in recent government legislation. It means that thousands of qualified workers will be needed to create a children’s profession …” SkillsActive (2006) Quality Training, Quality Play 2006-2011 – The first UK strategy for Playwork Education, Training & Qualifications. www.playwork.org.uk

Some issues for discussion: • Children establish a close relationship with the adults around them that are very different to the relationship they have with their own parents and carers. This means that playworkers and others who work with children often find themselves in a position of trust where children and young people will confide in them, express their fears and concerns, and ask for advice and support. Much of this may be beyond the remit of the workers actually job description.

• Access to training and education is essential if a member of staff is to react to such approaches appropriately and effectively. Issues such as bullying, discrimination and abuse; physical and mental health concerns; and inclusion and disability issues should all be provided for through training and education.

• There is a well established ladder of training and qualifications for playwork from basic entry level up to senior playworker, playworker in charge, and beyond to degree qualified play development worker. This ladder is administered and coordinated by the Playwork Unit at SkillsActive, the Sector Skills Council for Active Learning and Leisure (www.playwork.org.uk) and the Higher Education courses such as the Bachelor of Arts Degree in Playwork are offered at a number of universities including Leeds Metropolitan University (www.leedsmet.ac.uk).

• Playwork training should not be seen as just for playworkers – anyone working with children from childcare workers, teachers, park and play rangers, designers and planners, would benefit from learning more about the unique approach that playwork brings to working with children.

57

Statement 13 “The local authority actively promotes the importance & value of play for Children & Young People of all ages.” “We identified in our play strategy a lack of public tolerance for children playing out. We have addressed this point because of over 1000 children surveyed during our children’s consultation a majority of them said their greatest barrier to playing outside was not traffic or lack of places to play – it was ‘people spoiling our fun’, and ‘people interfering in our play’ that was their greatest concern. They included in that being moved on by unsympathetic adults.” Mark Gladwin, Play Officer (Participation) Bradford Early Years & Childcare Service www.bradford.gov.uk

Some issues for discussion: • There are times when children, young people and adults come into conflict with each other over children’s chosen choice of play place or activity. Where there is such conflict children and young people almost always loose – see for example the number of ‘No Ball Games’ signs in housing areas. What these signs actually mean is, ‘No Playing here’.

• If children and young people being loud and annoying is a natural part of growing up then there is a possibility that adults complaining about such behaviour is also natural. However, it is worth reminding adults sometimes about what their own childhoods were like and what they got up to when they were younger.

• Young people, particularly teenagers, get a very bad press. Such negative images need to be addressed and countered with positive ones. The local authority can help here by encourage dialogue between the generations in local authority wide initiatives and local events.

• Despite the concerns that many adults may have we still see children as important because, ‘they are the future’. True, but children and young people are also citizens and members of our local communities now and as such they have certain rights as well as responsibilities.

58

Statement 14a and 14b “Children & Young People have access to informal places to play that are recognised as such and are protected.” “Children & Young People’s Impact Assessments are carried out before changes to local policy, and at the planning stage of regeneration & building projects.” “Children and young people spend much more time outside in their local neighbourhood than most local adults, and so any changes to that environment are likely to affect them more and may affect them in ways that adults may not fully understand. In the Scandinavian countries there is a recognition that such changes may have negative consequences for local children and so there is a requirement on local authorities to make an assessment of what effect such changes may have at the initial planning stage.” Marc Armitage, PLAYPEOPLE ~ taking play seriously www.playpeople.se

Some issues for discussion: •

The odd piece of waste land and ‘bombed out’ area is one that will be occupied by children and

used in their play – at least in part because these spaces will often be overgrown and so provide the kind of experiences that children look for in a play place. However, these spaces are increasingly disappearing – a growing economy means a need for land for development and building.

• We should never assume that just because a piece of land is waste and wild and is of no use to adults, that it is not being used by children and young people for their play and socialising. Replacing such spaces with neat, tidy adult designed play places is not an alternative.

• Before making any major changes to the local community infrastructure, a proper children and young peoples audit that details what spaces are being used and how they are used should be made. The results of such an audit can very often be an eye opener, revealing patterns of use that adults have simply not noticed before.

• In a number of European Union countries, including all three Scandinavian countries, there is a legal requirement for local authorities to do this (see for example the website of the Swedish Children’s Ombudsman www.bo.se, Swedish website with English link page)

• Playwork training should not be seen as just for playworkers – anyone working with children from childcare workers, teachers, park and play rangers, designers and planners, would benefit from learning more about the unique approach that playwork brings to working with children. 59

Statement 15 “Children & Young People are involved & consulted on the location, design & development of new & existing public playgrounds.” “Involving children and young people in the design of a playground produces a play space that does for them what they need. That provides some ownership and so they look after it.” Jess Milne, Design & Build Play www.designandbuildplay.org

Some issues for discussion: • It is sometimes an uncomfortable fact to face, but children and young people do not use public playgrounds as we might like. A playground which has a higher Play Value score is likely to receive more use than one with a low score.

• Play Value is a method used to assess the variety of opportunities a playground provides. If, for example, a playground has two sets of identical swings it would not score well in Play Value terms as what the assessment is not doing is counting pieces of play equipment – a playground with two very different types of swing providing different experiences will begin to score higher because there is now some variety in how a person can swing.

• When children and young people are involved in the design of new and redeveloped playgrounds this also tends to increase usage and lower damage and vandalism.

• Even when children and young people are involved and consulted on playground design, however, the most important question that could provide input on has usually been decided on already – that is where the playground should be located.

60

Statement 16 “The local authority provides a strategic approach to developing local playground provision.” “The review confirmed the need for a strategic approach, a stronger focus on play at national and local level and for the whole system to be streamlined to secure maximum benefit from the extra funds and the higher priority now being given to play.” Department of Culture, Media & Sport (2004) Getting Serious about Play – a Review of Children’s Play. London: HMSO

Some issues for discussion: • The technical design note PPG17 which gives guidance and regulation on the design and building of recreational facilities such as playgrounds; and the National Playing Fields Association 6 acre standard (www.npfa.org.uk) suggests that playgrounds should form part of a coordinated hierarchy of types of space.

• Developing children and young people’s access to parks and playground provision needs to take into account their ability to travel and what distances they would be prepared to move to regularly and unaccompanied visit a play place.

• A series of smaller spaces leading to a larger more central space is the norm, but there is a possibility that we spend a disproportionate amount of effort and resources on the bigger, destination facilities despite the fact that the smaller, closer to home spaces are probably used more often.

61

Statement 17 “The local authority adopts an effective Play Strategy & Action Plan linked to the local Children & Young People’s Plan.” “A local authority that has a Play Strategy is saying that it values play as an essential part of children’s development in the same way as it sees other services, such as education for example, as important - it highlights that children learn through their play. Having a Play Strategy and a plan showing how it will be adopted and implemented gives a clear commitment to ensuring that things will be done.” Nicole Harwood, Play Strategy Officer, Sheffield City Council. www.sheffield.gov.uk

Some issues for discussion: • The Dobson Report (the National Review of Children’s Play completed for the Department of Culture, Media and Sport in 1994) concluded a strategic approach to play provision development was essential if local children were to get the most from new opportunities. The Report also made recommendations to the new BIG Lottery Children’s Fund that taking such an approach was important.

• The BIG Lottery Fund and central government have made it clear that if local authorities are to get a fair share of the £155 million available for England, then any submission made must provide evidence of a strategic approach and partnership working. A similar requirement is made on local authorities in children’s services in general through the requirements of the Children Act 2004 and the Every Child Matters – Change for Children agenda (www.everychildmatters.gov.uk).

• The creation of a Play Strategy which should be seen as stand alone document though related to other strategies and plans, therefore, is important on a number of different levels. Not least of which is financial.

62

Statement 18 “Children & Young People have access to a range of play opportunities that are free at the point of entry.” “Access to projects should be free to users. Charging clearly leaves low-income children and young people and their families at a disadvantage. So any charges should be considered only in exceptional circumstances, e.g. for trips and outings, and only if there then is there is no other source of funds.” Department of Culture, Media & Sport (2004) Getting Serious about Play – a Review of Children’s Play. London: HMSO

Some issues for discussion: • Some of the best childhood experiences we might remember as a child were free of cost. A trip to the beach, for example, is a trip full of excitement and experiences at little cost to parents and carers. However, for an experience to be truly free then the travel costs must be taken into consideration.

• Transport for London, in cooperation with Ken Livingston the Mayor of London, have recently introduced free travel on all London public transport. Such a move will be a welcome point for families on low income and will hopefully lead to returning some degree of independent mobility to children.

• A play setting which offers the Three Free’s – ‘that is free at the point of entry, where children are free to do what they choose, and at which they are free to leave without the need for an adult to collect them’ (Perry Else, Sheffield Hallam University). This may not be feasible in all cases but it does provide something to aim for.

63

Statement 19 “Children & young people have access to mobile play projects.” “Mobile projects are ideal for taking play provision to places that could not usually access resources from elsewhere, whether because they are in rural places or other areas of social isolation – they can almost take play provision to the doorstep, often acting as a catalyst, empowering local communities to set up and run their own activities.” John Sutton, Technical Manager, National Play Bus Association www.playbus.org.uk

Some issues for discussion: • Mobile Play projects are those that move to a chosen location on wheels – either in the form of Play Vans and/or Play Trailer projects; or with converted double-decker buses. These forms of provision can move to quite isolated locations and set up their projects allowing play to be taken to children rather than them coming to it.

• Mobile play projects can also provide special play events or as part of ‘fun in the park’ type events during school holidays. Such provision is usually very cost effective and when combined with schemes such as rural mobile playschemes (see Statement 20) then large numbers of children can be provided with access to a service they might not otherwise have.

64

Statement 20 “Children & Young People have access to a range of different playschemes and special play events.” “How was the playscheme, Sam?” “It was really, really, REALLY good!” Sam, aged 8

Some issues for discussion: • Playschemes are daytime play sessions run during the school holiday period – mainly the summer and Easter break, but not exclusively. Playschemes can be run as an extension of an out-of-school care scheme or Extended Schools provision during the holidays, or can be open access – in other words, local projects set up where children can come when they wish and leave when they wish.

• Playschemes are amongst the most favoured type of play provision by children and young people themselves. However, it is all too easy to allow playschemes to become just another form of directed provision that has a specific agenda. Children like special activities such as art and craft, music and sports events run as part of playschemes, but tend to prefer those sessions where they are totally free to choose what to do – and that includes doing nothing but ‘hanging around with friends’.

• There is evidence that the number of open access playschemes that are close to children’s own homes has dropped alarmingly over the last decade to the point where in some local authority areas there are no such playschemes running.

65

Statement 21 “Children & Young People are involved and consulted in the organisation and management of their supervised play setting.” “The primary purpose of children playing is children playing! There is no need to consult them about play while they actually doing it, but there are times when we need to listen to them about their experiences when they play. As children become more comfortable with the adults around them they will want to become more involved in making decisions about things that affect them. That might include decisions about equipment, the staff they work with, and times facilities are open. A dialogue like this can lead to significant improvements in quality.” Steven Chown, Programme Manager, Torbay Children’s Fund www.the-childrens-society.org.uk/learn/SG_Feature/74862/9/

“Because then it’s like they (adults) are really interested in us. You’ve got to know what different children like to do. They might end up doing something really boring if they don’t ask us what we like doing. If we don’t know what the rules are we might get embarrassed or in trouble. If children help write the rules everyone will enjoy it and everything will all work out fine.” Barney aged 11 years, Elias 8 years, Ruby 6 years

Some issues for discussion: • Allowing children and young people to take an active role in organising and managing a supervised play setting takes a great deal of commitment and patience on the part of the staff and management group. Letting grip the reins of power is never easy.

• Involvement can range from consultation over activities and program planning and contents of meals and tuck shops; to help in publicity and fundraising activities; and interviewing prospective new members of staff.

• There will be some children and young people who do not want this degree of involvement but there will also be others who will benefit greatly from the experience. Any adult who may be afraid of this kind of approach should remember that even adults do not always get what they want.

• The Ladder of Participation, as adapted by Professor Roger Hart, gives a progressive tool for judging the extent to which children and young people are consulted and involved (www.freechild. org/ladder.htm).

66

Statement 22 “Young people have the opportunity for play training & education and job opportunities in the play sector.” “In June 1988 the very first Playwork course based in a higher education organisation in the UK was validated at Leeds Metropolitan University (then Leeds Polytechnic). In January 1989 the first cohort of students enrolled on this unique course. In the ensuing 17 years the profession of Playwork has grown in recognition with increasing numbers of students being attracted to the field.” Playwork (BA) Degree course, Leeds Metropolitan University www.leedsmet.ac.uk

Some issues for discussion: • The play work force has increased dramatically in the last decade and is set to increase still further as more playwork job opportunities become available. Access to good quality training that is held local enough for participants to access is, as a result, is going to become an increasing need.

• Local colleges play organisations and individual settings all provide training for playworkers, however, it is questionable how much of this is known about by people such as school careers advisors and local authority officers.

67

Statement 23 “Young People have access to volunteering opportunities.” “There are many opportunities to volunteer within playwork like in after-school clubs, weekend clubs and during school holidays in camps. This is a great way to gain realistic and relevant experience. Playwork employers value prospective employees making the effort to gain relevant experience and developing skills needed to be a successful playworker.” SkillsActiveCareers Case Study UK www.skillsactive.com

Some issues for discussion: • May play settings would find it very difficult to operate without volunteer workers, who themselves often say that volunteering often leads to fuller employment and on the job training.

• Young people have many volunteering opportunities offered to them as part of Citizenship within the curriculum and other schemes such as the Duke of Edinburgh’s Award Scheme.

68

Statement 24 “Children and Young People have access to a range of good quality supervised play provision close to home.” “The best play provision is part of the community - it’s about where they live and the relationships in that community. In play provision that is close to home the playworkers will develop relationships with children and the wider community that will help them help their children to access opportunities within their own community; advocate on their behalf; and provide a voice within their community.” Steven Chown, Programme Manager, Torbay Children’s Fund www.the-childrens-society.org.uk/learn/SG_Feature/74862/9/

Some issues for discussion: • For many children life can seem one long journey from place to place: home to school; school to care scheme; care scheme to sports centre or art club; and back to home. Often all by car.

• Having facilities that are close to home means that children may be able to get to and from them on foot or on bicycle, increasing the amount of time they spend outside and so being active.

• Facilities close to home are also likely to be cheaper – no transport fees.

69

Statement 25 “Children & Young People are able to walk or cycle to school, in the company of adults and independently.” “Walking to and from school can be better for children than two hours a week of PE and games lessons.” Roger Mackett, Making Children’s Lives more active. Centre for Transport Studies, University College London, August 2004.

Some issues for discussion: • In the 1970s most children walked or cycled to school. In the early 21st Century most are now taken to school by car. Parents often report that they cannot let their children walk or cycle to school because of the traffic on the roads, forgetting that they are a major contributor to this. What may be more significant is the increase in people at work – it is much more convenient for a parent to drop their children off at school in the car on the way to work than perhaps to walk them before leaving for work.

• Safe routes to school can be very effective in claming parent’s fears over traffic and give children greater freedom and control over their own movement so growing in confidence and being more active. Walking Bus schemes, where adults collect children at ‘Bus Stops’ before all walking to school together can also be very effective, but they do not replace the freedom that have had in the past to play on the way to and on the way home from school.

70

Statement 26 “Children & Young People have access to a good quality outdoor environment that provides for their play, social & recreational needs at primary & secondary school.” “As an environment for children’s play [the school playground] is often barren and visually depressing, with harsh lines and hard surfaces, and with little or no equipment. There may be a few faded game markings on the surface … but very little else on which children can focus.” Peter Blatchford (1991) Playtime in the Primary School: Problems and Improvements. London: Routledge

Some issues for discussion: • There have been playgrounds at schools in the British Isles for as long as we have had schools in the way that we know them. From a very early stage there were strict regulations on the minimum sizes of those playgrounds and what sort of equipment should be in them – shelter, seating and play equipment were the norm. However, all such regulations were removed in the 1996 (School Premises) Regulations.

• Very few modern school playgrounds provide shelter, shade and play equipment – often with fears over safety and cost given as a reason. However, the United Kingdom is one of very few countries in the European Union where there is no requirement for such features to be given.

• Children and young people often report that there favourite part of the school is the outside, but many of them also report that the outside is bland and boring. A bland and boring environment results in bland and bored children.

71

Statement 27 “Children and Young People at primary & secondary school have access to playtimes and lunchtimes that are enjoyable and which meet their play, social & recreational needs.” “For children and young people, playtimes, breaktimes, and the lunchtime period are simply the most important time in the whole school day. It is for them a chance to play, socialise and meet up with friends, discuss their day and their problems, and a chance to get away from the rigors of the classroom. The effect of a relaxed and fun playtime can have dramatic positive on children’s health, happiness, and their ability to learn.” Marc Armitage, PLAYPEOPLE ~ taking play seriously www.playpeople.se

Some issues for discussion: • In a similar way to the provision of playgrounds at school, there was until 1996 a requirement for a playtime period during the school day. This requirement no longer exists, although most primary and secondary school provide them. However, the time allocated to these periods is estimated at only half what it was in the early 1980s.

• When asked, children and young people report that the playtime, breaktime and lunchtime periods are their favourite parts of the school day. However, they also report that there is often little provided for them except for adults telling what not is they cannot do – and sometimes without much consistency.

• Adults appreciate a break from work and their evidence to suggest that children perform better at learning tasks after a playtime period. However, happy children also make better learners and playtime is time for freedom, relaxation and fun.

• Playtime and breaktime, however, can also produce its own stresses. Bullying and intimidation take place more outside and during these periods then they do indoors during class time. Staff need to be vigilant to see this happening as children and young people often report that this is missed by staff. When children fall out with friends this too can add to levels of stress.

72

Statement 28 “School Midday Supervisors have access to play training.” “It is now becoming recognised that there is a misalignment between the large amount of time supervisors spend in charge of pupils and their low pay and lack of training.” Peter Blatchford & Sonia Sharp (1994) Breaktime and the School: understanding and changing playground behaviour. London: Routledge.

“A good midday supervisor can make or break a lunchtime.” Primary school headteacher, North Yorkshire (2003)

Some issues for discussion: •

School midday supervisors at primary and secondary school have been responsible for the

supervision of children during lunchtime since the mid 1980s. They are usually poorly paid, poorly trained, have little status amongst staff or parents and at times unclear over their own role.

• Children, however, often make very close attachments to midday supervisors who, with even very basic play training, can begin to recognise some sense in the mass disorder that lunchtime often seems and help children make the most from their free time.

73

Statement 29 “Children & Young People are able to play while in hospital, at clinics, GPs and dentists surgeries.” “Play in a health care setting provides an opportunity to distract, divert, release emotions, develop coping strategies, encourage cooperation, reduce anxiety, and provide information regarding health promotion topics, procedures, and treatments. Appropriate play can involve health care personnel to reduce barriers, bring smiles and laughter under difficult or upsetting circumstances promoting a positive image of health care.” Karen Kelly, Head of Specialist Play Services, Birmingham Children’s Hospital NHS Trust www.bch.org.uk British Association of Play Therapists www.bapt.info

Some issues for discussion: • Any parent knows that when children are taken to places such as the dentists or the doctors surgery it does not take many minutes of waiting around for them to start ‘messing around’. What children themselves would say is that they are ‘playing’. It would not be a difficult or expensive task to set aside a small part of a waiting room as a play space

• For longer stays at hospital or hospice play can have a vital role in helping recovery. Play specialists and playworkers in hospitals can work in special playrooms and at the bedside providing access to play materials giving a form of acceptance that it is ok to play here too.

• When playschemes are based at a hospital site they can provide children at hospital with a respite from the hospital ward and can create a sense of normality with an opportunity to play with children who may not be attending the hospital for treatment themselves.

74

Statement 30 “Children & Young People have access to play-led transition projects as they move from primary to secondary school.” “This summer we are providing an adapted summer playscheme in our secondary school for about 80 of the 130 students who are rising to secondary this year. We will be monitoring how this year 7 group integrate and settle in compared to previous years. In our view Extended Schools should help children and young people to view school in a more holistic way – yes school is where they go for education and achievement, but this is also where they go stretch their imaginations, be creative, make social circles and overall enjoy.” Libby Pearson, Extended Schools Coordinator, Lady Lumley’s School, Pickering.

Some issues for discussion: • Moving from primary school to secondary school can be a stressful experience – children may loose touch with old friends and trusted adults, and find themselves in a bigger more complex environment that the one they are used to.

• Transition projects based on summer playschemes on after school projects before the summer holidays can help children make new contacts and begin to build friendship groups before the move.

• ‘Play’ in the context of transition projects works well, as the children find themselves in a familiar situation – playing – but with a group of people they may not know so well. Making new friends becomes easier.

75

Statement 31 “Children in the Foundation Stage at school and day care settings have access to a good quality outdoor play environment & spend significant time there.” “Unfortunately, outdoor play has sometimes been viewed as something that children do on their own and is secondary to what goes on in the classroom … but for outdoor play to be successful it is critical that the outdoor environment is considered in as much depth as any other educational setting.” Helen Bilton (1998) Outdoor Play in the Early Years: management & innovation. London: Fulton

Some issues for discussion: • The Foundation Stage is the name given to the early year’s curriculum for children between three and four years old. It is delivered in both school and childcare settings. In Wales, a new Foundation Phase is due to begin in 2007 which sets the age range for this early curriculum at between three and seven years – a similar age grouping is used in many other European Union countries.

• The Foundation Stage and Phase guidance notes state that the outdoors is a very important element in the whole curriculum, however, a significant number of settings have very poor quality outdoor spaces and in some cases no space at all.

• The use of outdoor space in early learning works best when free access is allowed between the indoor and outdoor environment. This is a point that is not well understood in some settings who give mainly practical and supervision reasons for not doing this.

76

Statement 32 “Primary & secondary schools & Hospitals have a statement and/or policy on play & recreation during the school day/during attendance.” “In an institutional setting where children may spend a significant amount of their time, having a separate statement or a policy on play is taking an opportunity to highlight the value of ‘play’ for its own sake. Where the subject of play is included as a smaller part of a larger policy this value and importance is often lost. In schools, for example, play for older children is often linked firmly to the behaviour agenda, which changes significantly the way that play is viewed in the school. And not for the better” Marc Armitage, PLAYPEOPLE ~ taking play seriously www.playpeople.se

Some issues for discussion: • Schools usually have numerous policy documents relating to the running of the school. ‘Play’ is more often than not included within a broader Behaviour Policy.

• A separate Play Policy in the school gives a school an opportunity to declare the importance it places on play and recreation during the school day – something that can be shown to parents and other professionals who may be unclear about the role of playtime and break times.

• Lunchtime at primary and secondary school has an obvious purpose – it is time to eat a meal. The purpose of playtime and breaktime are less obvious. Preparing a School Play Strategy provides an opportunity to discuss and reach a conclusion on this issue.

77

Statement 33 “Children & Young People are involved & consulted on the design & development of the outdoor environment at school.” “Scrutiny of the research relating to the design of school grounds consistency points to the importance of involving children to achieve ‘good’ outcomes … There can be little doubt that where children are consulted, appropriately, about the design of provision for them, a better understanding of their needs is achieved and design outcomes are usually more successful.” Wendy Titman (1994) Special Places, Special People: The hidden curriculum of school grounds. Surrey: LTL/WWF

Some issues for discussion: • Adults are often guilty of assuming that they know how children are using particular spaces that they occupy regularly. Teachers and midday supervisors, for example, may feel that they know exactly how the children and young people at their school are using the playgrounds and the wider grounds during their free periods. They will be right with some things but very wrong with others.

• Before making any physical changes to school grounds an audit of current use involving children themselves should be made and new proposals for development should be based on what already happens and where it happens. Failure to do so can result in spaces and features being removed that are already popular and well used. A point which leads to frustration and resentment.

• When school grounds are developed they are sometimes altered for purely educational reasons, such as to develop wildlife resources, sports facilities, and outdoor classrooms. It is important to remember that a significant amount of the time that children spend outside at school during the school day is free time for them to choose what they want to do and who they want to do it with. That’s why ‘play’ is included in the word ‘playground’.

78

Statement 34 “Children & Young People have access to a representative school council at primary & secondary school.” “School councils are democratically elected groups of students who represent their peers and enable pupils to become partners in their own education, making a positive contribution to the school environment and ethos.” Schools Councils UK website www.schoolcouncils.org

“I want a school council to make school more interesting, so we get a say in what goes around because what’s happening affects us more than anyone else.” Barney, aged 11

Some issues for discussion: • Schools are places that not only teach children a practical and academic curriculum but they are also places that prepare children for future life. An ability to make decisions and to experience representative structures is useful to this aim and is a part of citizenship in the National Curriculum (see for example the Schools Council website www.schoolcouncils.org).

• School Councils at primary and secondary school can act as a useful link between the adult world of the school and the child world – the school council for instance can often raise issues or add weight to a discussion from a child’s point of view that adults may have missed or not have given great significance too.

• There are some children and young people at school in particular that may benefit from the added responsibility of school council membership. However, these ‘difficult’ children may not be given the chance to do so because of adult concerns over previous behaviour.

• Once a school council is adopted it is important that the views of the council are seen as important and are acted upon by the school staff. Failure to do so presents children and young people at school with a lesson in adult to child power issues.

79

Statement 35 “Children & Young People support others at school and at hospital.” “We have very little objective evidence on the success of such projects as ‘buddy schemes’ and children as play mentors – both of which strike me as very adult concepts. But we do have evidence of how positive friendships and peer to peer relationships between children can help in times when children are under stress, are unhappy, or are simply bored.” Marc Armitage, PLAYPEOPLE ~ taking play seriously www.playpeople.se

Some issues for discussion: • The British tradition of teaching is still very much about the adult-to-child relationship, possibly because of the academic background of much of our teacher training. However, in a number of other countries the important role of the child-to-child relationship in learning is emphasised and peer led learning is an accepted part of school life.

• Often, child-to-child involvement at school is based on good behaviour and anti-bulling strategies which, while positive in itself, is sometimes based largely on adult views, perceptions and methods of dealing with conflict. In the case of anti-bulling, for example, the Scandinavian organisation Friends promotes the important role that children and young people themselves have in creating an environment in which bullying is simply not acceptable (www.friends.se, Swedish website with English link page).

• In health care facilities children can act as supporters to other children through illness and injury simply by providing an opportunity to ‘compare notes’ with a child who already experienced a particular procedure.

80

Statement 36 “Children & Young People have access to school grounds & other school facilities outside of school hours.” “As a community school we allow access to our field after school hours because we want to make our facilities as available for community use as possible. Our school site is very well looked after because our local children and young people feel they have some ownership of it.” Estelle Macdonald, Headteacher Collingwood Primary School, Hull

Some issues for discussion: • In some areas, especially those that are heavily built up and densely populated, the local school grounds may provide the only access to community open space in the neighbourhood. However, many schools and Boards of Governors report that they are unwilling to allowing greater community access after school hours because of the possibility of vandalism. However, a school that has people on site using it as a play and recreational facility are not the problem – they are part of the solution as these users act as informal guardians of the school grounds.

• The protection of school buildings from deliberate damage is an important point, but protecting the school buildings is not the same issue as protecting the school grounds. At Collingwood Primary School in Hull, for example, large areas of the school grounds are open to community use, but separate areas of fencing make it impossibly for people using this space to reach the school buildings.

• The use of local community stewardship schemes, where there are formal agreements with members of the local community over their informal in ‘keeping an eye on the school’ are defined and encouraged (see Statement 42).

• The Extended Schools agenda may produce additional difficulties with greater open access use of school grounds. This may mean that non-users of after-school care projects are denied use of the grounds whilst such schemes are running for security concerns. This presents a tricky issue for debate.

81

Statement 37 “Children and Young People have access to child-friendly and playfriendly city and town centres, shopping centres, parks and public spaces” “Public spaces that engage and stimulate children are enjoyed by everyone. Just look at the fountains in Sheffield’s Peace Gardens which, on hot and not-so-hot days, becomes the city’s beachfront. With good design and management, city and town centres, parks and public spaces can be more than just thoroughfares. They can be places where people of all ages and walks of life can play, rest, meet their friends or simply relax and watch the world go by.” Tim Gill, Rethinking Childhood, Writer and Consultant www.rethinkingchildhood.com

Some issues for discussion: • Towns, cities, and villages have, to a certain extent, always been seen as adult places – they are designed by adults with adult needs in mind. However, children and young people make up a significant proportion of a local areas population and will spend time in public places whether adults want them to or not. Children often accompany parents and carers to public places, and older children and teenagers will often travel from out of town to larger city centers to make use of the leisure, retail and cultural facilities that they offer.

• UNICEF, the United Nations agency for children, currently supports the European Network of ChildFriendly Cities which aims ‘to make cities livable for all’ (www.childfriendlycities.org). They share the vision expressed by Ken Livingston, Mayor of London, who said in the capitals Children and Young People’s Plan that ‘a child friendly city is one in which children are seen and heard’.

• A child-friendly city, however, cannot be truly child friendly unless it is also play-friendly. Sheffield, for example has a very good example of how a city centre feature can be both a public space and play friendly not just through it’s fun water features that can be played in, but also by an acceptance of the fact that this is a space where children can play (see the Pease Gardens link in www.sheffield. gov.uk).

82

Statement 38 “Children & Young People are able to freely move around their neighbourhoods & communities on foot, cycle or public transport.” “Many studies have shown that children play everywhere, regardless of whether the space in question has been designed for play or not.” Pia Björklid (1982) Children’s Outdoor Environment’s: A study of children’s outdoor activities on two housing estates from the perspectives of environmental psychology and developmental psychology. Studies in Education and Psychology 11, University of Stockholm.

Some issues for discussion: • Children and young people play everywhere. As Colin Ward said in his book, The Child in the City (1978, 1990 London: Bedford Square Press) ‘play is the thing that children do’. There is, therefore, simply no place that is ‘inappropriate for play’ because children will play wherever they are – because they play all the time!

• Creating a playground in a local community, therefore, is no guarantee that children and young people will not still spend time in other places too. This means that children and young people also spend a great deal of their time moving around their local neighborhoods – visiting playgrounds, informal places to play, sports and youth centers, schools, shops and friend homes.

• A local neighborhood where children and young people can do this without the fear of traffic accidents and free of their parents concerns over their welfare whilst outside is a sign of a positive functioning community.

83

Statement 39 “Children & Young People have access to safe streets and playfriendly home neighbourhoods.” “Streets are the starting points of children’s everyday experiences and adventures outside the home. At their best - as in well-designed home zones - they can offer rich, lively play environments much like those that many adults remember from their own childhoods. So home zones should be the benchmark for all new housing developments. Even in existing streets, where traffic levels may make it difficult to reclaim the street space for play, children should be able to walk and cycle safely and conveniently around their neighbourhoods, with places to play close to hand.” Tim Gill, Rethinking Childhood, Writer and Consultant www.rethinkingchildhood.com

Some issues for discussion: • Children and young people in many areas still see no problem with cars moving up and down their local streets when playing there – they simply stand aside when a car comes and wait for it to pass before carrying on. In fact, parked cars prove more of a problem than moving cars in this context, because parked cars physically remove street space.

• Homezones are one solution to this, where combinations of street furniture, a change in priorities to pedestrians, traffic calming and redesigning parking can result in a space where access to places for play right outside the front door are possible (www.homezones.org.uk).

• Homezone, however, are not always popular with planners and traffic officers. They have priorities, quite rightly, to reduce child road deaths and accidents - the Homezone agenda, however, is broader and is about more than just the reduction of accidents. It is also about returning communities to people and lessening the grip of the motorcar.

• Traffic calming is one part of that and the reaction to ‘speed bumps’ is a classic example of adult views taking precedence over children’s needs can be seen. Speed bumps in residential streets have dramatically reduced the number of serious injuries and death to children in our cities especially (Hull claims a more than 70% reduction in a 15 year period www.hullcc.gov.uk). But adult car divers do not like them and complain bitterly campaigning for them to be removed or lessened. They often win.

84

Statement 40 “Children & Young People are able to play at home.” “Playing at home is where it all starts – it is the place where a healthy and balanced family life begins. Children eventually progressing into playing both inside and outside, but for some children this can be difficult to do: disabled children, for example, may find access to the outdoors difficult, and there are other children who for reasons of culture, gender and other inclusion issues may find they spend more time playing at home than others.” Chris Snell, Play Developmental Officer, Leeds Play Network www.leedsplaynetwork.org.uk

Some issues for discussion: • Overcrowding, high rise living, poor housing and unsupportive outdoor neighborhoods can leave some children effectively restricted to playing mainly indoors. There are some communities where cultures reasons may restrict children’s access to the outdoors, especially girls.

• There will, however, always be times when children spend more time indoors than out. When children are very young, for example, or when the weather is exceptionally bad, or when parents and their carers are simply not confident that the outdoors presents a safe environment. Access to Play Ranger and Street Play Schemes may help counter some of the negative reason for children not playing out (see Statement 10) but home is a place of comfort for most children and so is just a valid a play place as a local playground.

• Access to Toy Libraries and equipment loan scheme can contribute to children’s playing at home, especially for those children where there is little income (see Statement 41).

• Some organizations and local authorities run Portage services, which provide specially trained individuals who work in the home with the parent or carer and their disabled children aged usually between 0 – 3 years helping them reach their early developmental milestones through play (www. portage.org.uk).

85

Statement 41 “Children & Young People of all ages have access to scrapstores, play equipment loan schemes & toy libraries.” “Scrapstores provide a vast array of different things for children, parents and organizations to use. It’s not things like empty yoghurt pots and glittery paper but big things too, like wheels and industrial scrap stuff that children can use as loose parts or for building big things. We also have equipment for loan to play settings and people like scout groups, schools, and childminders, who might not have the space to store such things or have the funding to buy it.” Claudia Fulchini, Creative Arts Worker, Replay Leeds Scrapstore – reuse reduce and recycle www.leedsplaynetwork.org.uk

Some issues for discussion: • A Scrapstore is a setting where material that is thrown away by industry are recycled and made available for play and art. This might include such things as paint, paper, card and other art and craft materials, fabric and glue. But it may also mean more ambiguous materials such as cardboard boxes of all sizes, rope, cloth sheets, tires, timber and industrial waste (see for example Grumpy at Manchester www.grumpy.org.uk).

• Play equipment loans services are often a service offered by scrapstores or by local play network organizations (see Statement 50). These tend to hold larger pieces of play equipment for use by parents, children, and play organizations. Things for loan may include parachutes for play, inflatable play features, big games sets, and loose parts such as timber, tires, and a host of all sorts of bits and bobs.

• Toy Libraries are loan points for toys. Aimed mainly, but not exclusively at parents with younger children, toy libraries also offer advice on choosing toys and in adult/child play and interaction (www. natll.org.uk).

86

Statement 42 “The local authority promotes local community stewardship & involvement in community facilities.” “Genuine community engagement not only ensures better use of facilities but actively reduces maintenance costs, which takes pressure off local authority budgets. Community involvement in projects like this have wider spin offs as they create a greater sense of confidence and a belief that engaging in wider regeneration can really make a difference.” Frank O’Malley, Business coordinator, Leeds Play Network www.leedsplaynetwork.org.uk

Some issues for discussion: • Community Stewardship Schemes are projects where a degree of responsibility for the protection, and in some cases the maintenance, of community facilities such as parks, public playgrounds, and school grounds, is given over to the community. This allows a local community to take a greater role in looking after what they rightly see as ‘there’s’.

• There are issues over agreeing on the responsibilities of such schemes and on what responsibilities the local authority (who is still likely to own and operate the facility) retains, but these are negotiable. Reluctance on the part of a local authority to enter such schemes is sometime based purely on their lack of previous history with such ideas.

• Children and young people should also form an important part of any such stewardship scheme.

87

Statement 43 “Children & Young People have access to play friendly cultural places to visit such as museums, galleries & libraries, etc.” “Museums offer a unique opportunity for children to learn more about themselves and the world around them. All museums should develop a play-friendly area, dedicated to children where they can be introduced to the museum experience ‘hands-on’ – play is how children learn.” Leigh-Anne Stradeski, Director Eureka! The museum for children. www.eureka.org.uk

“Libraries should be places that children enjoy, where they feel wanted in, and where they can develop a reading habit - for enjoyment as well achievement - that will continue through life.” Tracey Booth, Children’s Librarian, Hull Central Library, www.hullcc.gov.uk

Some issues for discussion: • Shhhhhhhh! No talking! Don’t touch that, just look! Stop messing about! What child in their right mind would value a space where such comments are felt appropriate?

• Children learn through the use of all five senses – particularly touch. Although there is value in looking at things children and young people would find an interactive space much more valuable. Our cultural facilities have recognized this and have made big advances in recent years, but all too often more effort is put into the coffee shop than into spaces for children to be children – exploring, discovering and learning.

88

Statement 44 “The local authority adopts relevant national & International policy & standards.” “Practical work to improve play space is affected by polices, strategies and initiatives at national and local level.” Children’s Play Council Briefing no. 2: More than Swings and Roundabouts. www.ncb.org.uk/cpc

Some issues for discussion: • The adoption of a local standard for play provision and for local plans and strategies are an essential part in making real change and development to play provision possible and improving children and young people’s access to services. However, this must be done in the context of relevant national and international initiatives, many of which local authorities should consider formally adopting. In the context of children and young people’s play and recreation these might include:



Best Play: what play provision should do for children (2000) (National Playing Fields

Association www.npfa.co.uk; Children’s Play Council www.ncb.org.uk/cpc; PLAYLINK www. playlink.org.uk) – which sets out a broad agenda on what play provision should actually provide children, particularly for local authorities.



The United Nations Convention on the Rights of the Child (1989) (www.unicef.org/crc)

– which sets out the basic international framework for children rights and includes important articles on children’s play (Article 31), consultation and involvement (Articles 12, 13), and freedom of assembly (Article 15).



Getting Serious about Play – a Review of Children’s Play (2004) (www.culture.gov.uk)

Department of Culture, Media & Sport. London: HMSO – which sets out the current state of play provision in the UK and makes recommendations to the BIG Lottery Fund on priorities for the distribution of funds.



A guide to preparing play strategies (www.london.gov.uk/mayor/strategies/play/index.jsp)



Every Child Matters: Framework for the inspection of children’s services (July 2005) Ofsted

(www.ofsted.gov.uk).



Realising the potential of cultural services: the case for play (Research Briefing 12.6,

November 2001), Local Government Association (www.lga.gov.uk).

89

Statement 45 “The local authority carries out a broad audit of current play provision and service providers.” “Engaging and consulting with children and young people as fully as possible is an essential part of the process: at least as important as the audit of provision. It is from determining the young community’s needs and aspirations for their free time, and assessing this against current provision and how it is used, that the specific objectives for the Play Strategy should emerge.” Mayor of London (2004) Draft Guide to Preparing Play Strategies London: GLA

Some issues for discussion: • The provision of play services for children can be difficult to define and audit, simply because so many different department and agencies have a role in providing for play – even department such as traffic and planning have issues relating to play. However, an affective audit is an important starting point to identifying gaps in provision and identifying solutions.

• The planning guidance note PPG17 gives guidance on how this audit might be done, but does so mainly in the context of providing open spaces – but it services a useful, starting point (www. communities.gov.uk).

• Children and young people should be involved in such an audit from the start, if only because they may have ideas about what constitutes ‘provision’ in a local area that adults might not consider, waste and wild spaces not actually designated for play but well used for example.

• Local neighbourhood play audits involving children and young people should also be made as ‘snapshots’ of what is available in detail. Such a local audit also provides a valuable insight into how children and young peoples themselves use their local spaces – an exercise that might identify potential and actual conflict with adults.

90

Statement 46 “The local authority provides or supports a local play partnership body made up of relevant partners in the statutory, voluntary & private sectors. “Local partners will need to work closely together to access local needs, set priority for action, identify and pool relevant resources, plan services and decide how best to commission and provide them. These arrangements will reaffirm local authorities’ traditional role in local leadership.” Tessa Jowell MP (2005)

Some issues for discussion: • Because the provision of play services involves such an eclectic band of providers, partnership working is the only effective way of auditing, preparing strategy, and planning for action.

• Local play partnerships can wind up being very, very big bodies which needs careful and effective methods of communicating so as to involve all concerned.

91

Statement 47 “The local authority provides a Play Officer of a sufficiently high grade to administer the Play Strategy.” “Play is a service area that cuts across many departmental boundaries: from early year’s provision, to youth work, sports, community safety, countryside, planning and traffic to name but a few. A local authority officer that is not employed at a sufficiently high enough grade in the local authority structure will find it difficult to have much influence across such a diverse range of departments.” Marc Armitage, PLAYPEOPLE ~ taking play seriously www.playpeople.se

Some issues for discussion: • Many local authorities have employed an individual as a Play Development Officer, with some having a long history of having such a post. These officers have generally being employed at quite a low scale, principally because such a position rarely holds much in the way of budget and rarely any capital budget.

• However, the role of a Play Officer in the local authority has taken on a new direction with the adoption of Play Strategies and partnership working. The Play Officer is now more of a strategic position, coordinating the delivery of the Play Strategy. In order to be able to do this effectively the Play Officer needs to have the ability and the authority to move across departmental boundaries and interact with high level offices within the council structure. The scale of the Play Officer must reflect this, even where there is still no major capital budget directly associated with the pots.

• Those small numbers of universities that have been producing degree qualified individuals who are specialists in providing for the play needs of school age children, especially open access play, have managed to cope with the demand for such positions so far, but the demand is likely to increase in the coming years. Care should be taken not to take the easy route and employ an individual without that play specialist background. After all, if there is a problem with the plumbing at home we don’t call an electrician to fix it.

92

Statement 48 “The local authority provides or supports a local Play Service.” “Wirral has adopted the United Nations Convention on the Rights of the Child which sets out a child’s basic needs – this includes the child’s right to play. Wirral recognises that children need to play as well as having access to education and other services while they are growing up and a play service seeks to enrich children’s lives through play provision. This is what children and their local communities say they want.” Steve Chan, Acting Deputy Head Youth & Community Service (Play), Wirral Metropolitan Borough Council, www.wirral.gov.uk

Some issues for discussion: • Although there are trained and competent people employed in positions that involve providing for children’s play needs, such as teachers, social workers, and park rangers for example – playworkers are specialists in providing play opportunities that are sympathetic to the way that children and young people themselves say they want to spend their free time. A team of well trained and qualified playworkers, whether employed by the local authority or not, are a vital part in the overall scheme of providing for children’s play needs.

• Not all playworkers work in buildings: some work on adventure playgrounds, some in the streets and green spaces around children’s homes, some on mobile play projects and others in schools, hospitals and local prisons.

93

Statement 49 “The local authority provides or supports a local play network organisation.” “Play network organisations provide the local community and play providers with an independent, expert body that can offer a necessarily robust challenge to the local authority when questioning the quality of play services being delivered – giving a voice to local children and their parents where they may not otherwise have the power to do so. They also act as an umbrella organisation for other play providers, giving challenge, support and promoting innovation.” Frank O’Malley, Business coordinator, Leeds Play Network www.leedsplaynetwork.org.uk

Some issues for discussion: • The existence of a local play network organisation that can provide play providers, individual playworkers, parents, and local authority officers with specialist advice and support is patchy around the county. In some regions there are long established networks in all or nearly all local authority areas, where in others there are few.

• Such organisations are almost always in the voluntary sector and they survive by a combination of large and small grants plus in some cases core funding from their local authority. As voluntary sector organisations they provide very good value for money but many struggle for funding on a year by year basis.

• A local play network will prove an invaluable partner in any local play partnership and should be seen by a local authority as an important link between the statutory provider and much of the face to face work on the ground. Failure to financially support such an organisation is folly.

• In addition to the local play networks, there is a well established regional structure in the form of the National Centres for Playwork Education and Training, part of the Playwork Unit in SkillsActive, the Sector Skills Council for Active Learning and Leisure (www.playwork.org.uk); and a newly emerging network of regional centres supporting the work of Play England, the organisation for children’s play in England (www.playengland.org.uk).

• Scotland (www.playscotland.org), Wales (www.playwales.org.uk) and Northern Ireland (www. playboard.org) also have national play organisations.

94

Statement 50 “Children & Young People have access to National Play Day events.” “Playday is the biggest annual play celebration in the country. On Playday each year, thousand of children take part in play celebrations across the UK. These events are organised by local people, with support from the Children’s Play Council.” National Play Day website, www.playday.org.uk

Some issues for discussion: • National Play Day, coordinated by the Children’s Play Council (www.playday.org.uk) and held usually on the first weekend in August each year, has become a well attended celebration of children’s play. National, regional and local play organisations all get involved in special events for the day which provides an ideal opportunity for publicity, information sharing (especially with children and young people) and a chance to monitor local strategy and consult.

95

Statement 51 “Children & Young People are actively engaged in decision making, planning, managing & monitoring policy, strategy & services, and their views are taken seriously.” “[The Audit Commission Play Strategy Performance Indicator LIB 115] … assess the extent to which the development, adoption and implementation of a corporate play policy has involved users and providers, is responsive to local and diverse needs and demonstrates an understanding of the importance of play and the child’s right to play.” Mayor of London (2004) Draft Guide to Preparing Play Strategies London: GLA

Some issues for discussion: • The involvement of children and young people in preparing audits of play provision and decision making and producing a Play Strategy should be seen as only a first step. Children and young people should also have an opportunity to monitor the workings of those bodies that are established to provide for their needs.

• Key service areas in local government have Scrutiny Committees whose remit is to critically assess the way in which the local authority operates. The creation of a Children and Young People’s Scrutiny Committee made up purely of children and young people who have the task of assessing the local authority’s track record in providing for their needs would be a brave step for any local authority to take, but a valuable one.

96

Statement 52 “The local authority produces a regular local ‘State of Children’s Play Report.” “Over the coming months and years, the [State of London’s Children] report – which we plan to update regularly – will be an invaluable tool for London Government and our partners involved in the ongoing implementation of my Children and Young peoples Strategy.” Ken Livingston, Mayor of London, in the forward to the 2004 State of London’s Children Report www.london.gov.uk

Some issues for discussion: • National Play Day, coordinated by the Children’s Play Council (www.playday.org.uk) and held usually on the first weekend in August each year, has become a well attended celebration of children’s play. National, regional and local play organisations all get involved in special events for the day which provides an ideal opportunity for publicity, information sharing (especially with children and young people) and a chance to monitor local strategy and consult.

97

Statement 53 “Children, Young People & play professionals are represented on relative working groups & strategic bodies.” “... play needs to be properly represented on all forums and groups where children are the focus ... expert representation is not enough – children need to be involved.” Play Link (2002) Play as Culture: incorporating play in cultural strategies, www.playlink.org.uk

Some issues for discussion: • Play specialist individuals and organisations can provide vital advice and support on play related matters to local authorities in general and to local play partnerships and play strategy groups in particular. Failure to involve such people may well result in poor choices and priorities being made and value for money being called into question.

• However, the real experts in this topic are children and young people themselves. Without involving them directly, taking what they say seriously, and acting upon it a local authority runs the risk of paying lip service and not taking a lead by example.

98

Statement 54 “The local authority provides ‘child friendly’ updates and progress towards completion of the Play Strategy.” “Well, I read it, and I read, and I read it. But I didn’t get it.” Ellie (aged 11), on having read a local authority Play Strategy Discussion Document.

Some issues for discussion: • A document that cannot be read and understood can serve only one of two purposes: a) It is intended to be useful but ultimately fails because its contents cannot be actioned or monitored, or b) It serves its purposes of making sure that no one could question its contents or monitor its progress because it was deliberately written in such a way that it could not be understood.

99