Publication - Advice and guidance

Scotland's Play Ranger Toolkit

Published: 30 Jun 2015
Children and Families Directorate
Part of:
Children and families, Education

This Play Ranger Toolkit has been developed by the Play Ranger charities supported by Go2Play – focused on growing play opportunities for children and harnessing the expertise of the sector.

93 page PDF

2.5 MB

93 page PDF

2.5 MB

Scotland's Play Ranger Toolkit
Section 2: Go2Play Play Ranger Case Studies

93 page PDF

2.5 MB

Section 2: Go2Play Play Ranger Case Studies

Eight impactful Scottish children's charities were selected to create the innovative Go2Play - Play Ranger Portfolio.

During its three year lifespan, the Play Ranger model established itself in Scotland and the work delivered flourished in the specific communities that each charity operates in.

During this time the Play Rangers facilitated 22,749 play hours of free play for 27,254 children across Scotland, generating 169,242 attendances at play sessions. The charities were encouraged to use the Go2play investment and support to develop new initiatives and lever in additional resources for play. Over the 3 years, and across the 8 charities this extra funding amounted to £1,432,963 more funding for Play.

While some of the ventures are specialists in the provision of inclusive play, the Play Rangers aspired to support all children. Encouragingly between 8% and 12% of the children supported had additional support needs (as reported by the charities). Significantly higher proportions (over 65%) were classified as vulnerable and/or living within an area of social deprivation.

Each of the charities experienced in Play Ranger provision has provided a case study, found in the following pages, along with their contact details in order to make it easier for you to establish this type of play provision.

Play Rangers facilitated 22,749 hours of free play
Play Rangers helped 27,254 children
Extra funding for play amounted to £1,432,963

Aberdeen Play Forum

Aberlour Futures, Frederick Street Centre (Early Years Services)
Ground Floor, Frederick Street, Aberdeen, AB51 4FP

Supporting Aberdeen in becoming a City of Play for All.

Also known as Aberdeen's Strategic Voice for Play, the Play Rangers support APF's vision through their creative work on the ground.

Their main remit is to deliver loose parts play sessions for Schools & Out of School Club's, specialised sessions for marginalised groups, drop-in holiday programmes as well as special Play Day events for families.

Play Ranger sessions have been held in a variety of public open spaces including: the Beach; a previously under-used city-centre green space; and a host of parks across the city. The Play Ranger team also receives requests from community groups and other Third Sector organisations to support their events with loose parts play as an effective and low budget method for supporting inclusion and transition.

The Play Rangers do a brilliant job of facilitating and supporting children's play in a variety of contexts, bringing together children all ages, genders and abilities. They are well loved by the children, who can't wait for the 'Play Ranger Day' each week.


The drop-in holiday programmes have become increasingly popular with families, child-minders, nurseries and OOSCs. Families are now always prepared for every weather and attend come wind, rain or shine, with up to 80 children attending regular Play Ranger loose parts play sessions and up to 500 children attending special Play Day events. Parents have really got into the spirit of outdoor free play in these sessions too, supporting their children as they immerse themselves in play with water, mud, clay, flour and other sticky delights.

The lunchtime Play Rangers sessions have proved to be incredibly popular with primary schools. This has led to the development of a training programme aiming to support schools to acquire, store, and provide loose parts play every day in the playground. Seven schools are currently on the waiting list.

In 2014, the weekly play sessions at Clinterty Travelling People's Site received the National Playwork Award for 'Play in Other Contexts' category and is still going strong.


  • The team has developed a good multi-agency approach building strong partnerships with other agencies to enhance and deliver play on the ground, as well as supporting play at strategic levels such as Guidance for Planners & Developers, Citywide Play Policy, supporting an initiative to remove all "No Ball Games" signs.
  • The team has gained the children's, young peoples and families respect and trust which over time has created a very popular and well used service provision.
  • The small but dynamic staff team deliver a breadth of high quality, inclusive play experiences for children and families across the city, contributing to raising the levels of happiness and healthiness of children and their families.


  • Getting schools (Teachers and PSAs) to understand the concept and value behind the project ethos and its value within the school.
  • Securing adequate storage and transportation of the loose parts to various venues presents difficulties in logistics.
  • Sourcing large scale funding for on-going projects is difficult due to the lack of Play Forum infrastructure within the organisation.
  • Recruiting play rangers, either part-time or sessional, is difficult from the childcare sector in Aberdeen due to the skills set, enthusiasm and ability to work outside required for the role.

Canongate Youth

South Bridge Resource Centre, 6 Infirmary Street,
Edinburgh, EH1 1LT

An exciting new project aiming to get children between 5 and 12 years old playing outdoors whatever the weather.

The Play Mile is a joint project between Canongate Youth, the Crags Community Sports Centre and City of Edinburgh Council providing play ranger sessions whilst developing a 'Play Mile' legacy within an area of deprivation. It aims to initially encourage children and young people in using the public spaces within the play corridor location raising community awareness and then eventually leading to the creation of new playful spaces for everyone to play in.

The project is managed by Canongate Youth's Play Enterprise Development Worker, Play Rangers and volunteers who work across the organisation. Currently the afterschool play programme offers children aged between 5 and 12 years an opportunity to come and play in a safe environment outside. Sessions are run by our trained Play Rangers and offer a range of unstructured scrap play as well as different games, and arts and crafts activities.

Sessions are open to all children, run once a week and can be accessed for a small fee.


The Play Rangers have been successful in bringing children, parents and carers together having a positive impact on the whole community. Over 30 children regularly attend and enjoy the weekly play sessions, learning social skills, being physically active, been consulted and listened to and inputting into the planning and evaluation of the whole project. Their presence is starting to change perceived negatives about the area and turning them into positives.


  • Providing a consistent, reliable and well marketed provision all year round to the local community enables the children and young people to enjoy reclaiming their local spaces for play as well as having an impact on individual childcare arrangements.
  • By being present in the parks and open spaces the Play Rangers are able to look out children's needs and issues that affect them and then advocate on their behalf.
  • The surrounding community has been really positive and supportive towards the staff and project, even when the children come home wet and muddy!


  • Operating play sessions in public spaces has presented difficulties with respects to other 'users' who may leave behind hazardous litter or present unpredictable behaviours through drug/alcohol misuse.
  • Overcoming negativity about the area and convincing community members and external organisations about the long term value that the project can provide to the community.
  • Ensuring that the project moves at a speed that all of the key stakeholders are comfortable with particularly during the development phase and maintaining open and clear channels of communication to all.

Cumbernauld YMCA

Kildrum Farm, Afton Road, Cumbernauld, Glasgow, G67 2DN

Providing free play opportunities for children in their local community and supporting them to reclaim their local streets, parks and woodlands for play.

The Cumbernauld YMCA Play Rangers facilitate and promote outdoor play opportunities for local children in their local community. The programme encourages children to initiate play experiences with minimum adult supervision or direction. Loose parts are provided to encourage creativity and innovation in the play experiences.

The Play Rangers sessions are geared to children aged 5 and 12yrs and attracts between 18 and 30 children at each session. The programme has fostered positive relationships with parents, neighbours schools and Housing Associations building feelings of ownership and security in the children and wider community.


Within the play sessions, children have the opportunity to practice and develop a broad range of skills and abilities through free play, including, problem solving, risk awareness and team work. The subsequent increase in confidence and resilience gained from these experiences remains with them into adulthood. The service provision is well liked and respected with parents and the local community receiving lots of enthusiastic participation for the Family Fun Days.

With funding support from Schools and Housing Associations the Play Rangers have also worked closely with local primary schools during their lunchtimes improving children's play experience whilst supporting and promoting on-going play in the community.


  • The locality and open access nature of the project meant it has been very successful in supporting children from a wide range of ages and backgrounds to play and form lasting friendships within their local streets and communities.
  • Developed strong working partnerships with children, parents, schools, neighbours and housing association.
  • Established a strong, skilled, knowledgeable and motivated staff team that provides a regular consistent service all year round.


  • Parents are reluctant to let children play outdoors in bad weather, particularly during the winter months having an impact on the numbers of children attending sessions.
  • Tackling adults perceptions of what open access provision and what free play involves is quite often misunderstood resulting in unnecessary barriers that require Play Rangers to advocate against.
  • Securing on-going funding for the service provision is underway and evidence from Go2Play will strengthen future funding applications.

Jeely Piece Club

The Tower, 55 Machrie Drive, Castlemilk, Glasgow, G45 0AL

Provides a wide range of indoor and outdoor play opportunities for children Primary 1-7, and their parents and carers including a full holiday/term time programme. Play sessions are also available for the general public, out of school care groups and schools.


Children can enjoy outdoor play which is included as part of the school's curriculum time along with after school provision. This enables children and young people access to good quality play opportunities outside in a natural woodland environment.

The play sessions are all child led and allow children to gain their own sense of danger and risk. Typical activities include den building, tree climbing, using hammers and saws, playing in the stream or "water play" which enables children to build an appreciation for outdoors and nature.


The Jeely Piece Club pioneers outdoor play activities in local woodland areas. The team of three trained, experienced and skilled workers deliver 14 sessions a week in natural areas within children's communities which helps to promote positive physical, mental and emotional health and well-being.

In 2013 the Minister for Children and Young People, Aileen Campbell MSP visited the Woodland Play in the Dark event to promote the value of outdoor woodland play.


  • Providing a regular and consistent provision with a strong team of dedicated and well qualified staff experienced in outdoor play in natural environments.
  • Having strong support from schools and local community groups has helped us to build up trust in the community we serve.
  • These play sessions allow children excellent opportunities to be challenged, take risks and have fun outdoors come rain or shine or even snow!


  • Weather is a challenge with respect to high winds as it can make the woodlands an unstable and hazardous environment to be playing in.
  • Children and young people not dressing appropriately for the weather conditions.
  • Getting teachers and parents to understand the concept and value behind the project ethos and the benefits it can have on children's social and emotional well-being.

Parent Action for Safe Play

2a Scarhill Street, Kirkshaws, Coatbridge, ML5 5BB

Run by the local community for the local community aiming to develop and improve play, youth and sport services for local children and young people.


Parent Action for Safe Play ( PASP) is a small local organisation that provides freely chosen, open access, street play services in several local neighbourhoods, bringing play workers and play equipment to the children.

The mobile Play Ranger element of the organisation enables children and young people to overcome barriers that stop them from playing in open spaces and demonstrates the importance of play at a local level within the community. By being present in the streets and open spaces in all weather conditions children and young people are empowered by the free choice and openness of the activities. The play sessions provide an opportunity for them to be challenged and take risks but not beyond their capabilities.

PASP recognise that 'free play' is not widely understood or valued and therefore promotes the benefits. We believe that play is a doorway to learning, stimulating children's imaginations, helping them adapt and solve problems and that play arouses curiosity, which leads to discovery and creativity.


PASP has been working for children's play for over 15 years.

The mobile Play Ranger project model enables children to access good quality play opportunities in the heart of their communities, sessions are very popular with 15 - 30 children regularly accessing the service on a nightly basis, with the number of locations around Coatbridge and Airdrie expanding. Last year 2,999 individual children and young people used the play ranger services.


  • Play Rangers provide regular, outdoor, physical, creative and free play opportunities across Coatbridge and Airdrie reaching children and young people who have little or no access to quality play and recreational experiences.
  • The small team of qualified and knowledgeable staff enable children and young people to feel safe so they can explore and have fun in their community all year round which in turn helps them to develop and grow, preparing them for life.
  • The mobile nature of the project enables the rangers to provide materials and equipment that may not be considered safe in other settings which offer challenging and risky play opportunities in a safe context.
  • Have promoted play at local and national level as a foundation for community regeneration and early intervention.


  • Weather is a challenge with wind and rain being difficult and trying particularly in the winter months with children not dressing appropriately for various conditions.
  • Poor lighting in some areas when the nights are darker make sessions more difficult to run.
  • Overcoming parental anxieties about their children playing outside after school such as roads, strangers and territorial boundaries.

Possibilities for Each and Every Kid

Abercromby Business Centre, Suite 2, 279 Abercromby Street
Glasgow, G40 2DD

A community led organisation based in the northeast of Glasgow developing children and young people and their families through free play, creative arts and physical activity.


The Street Play Rangers have introduced the idea of 'urban play' by providing open access loosely supervised free play sessions encouraging and helping local youngsters to play positively on the streets, developing their confidence and building connections with their families and communities.

This innovative approach to play provision provides opportunities for children to reclaim their streets and green spaces delivering enriched play experiences which are creative, challenging and stimulating. The programme is driven by local needs and operates all year round and in all weathers allowing for a consistent service provision. The Street Play Rangers recognise that children and young people are the experts in play, so maintaining a child centred perspective in their approach to outdoor play provision is paramount.


Since 2009 the street play rangers have built strong relationships with the children by providing activities to build self-esteem and encouraging a sense of ownership in their parks, street and open spaces. The sessions regularly attract between 20 and 30 children at any one time mainly between 5- 13 years sometimes encouraging children to play outside in their communities after school for the very first time.

The project has been developing a 'mini play ranger' aspect which encourages some of the young people to support sessions with the play rangers. This has proved very popular with some children counting down to their birthday to volunteer!


  • The Street Play Rangers' open and inclusive approach has enabled them to build strong and positive relationships with children.
  • The small but strong team of dedicated staff are committed to delivering quality play opportunities which has enabled us to provide a consistent all year round play provision even through the dark, wet and cold evenings.
  • Gained the respect and trust of children, young people and parents which over time has enabled Street Play Rangers to build strong relationships with the whole community.
  • Gained the children's, young people and parents' respect and trust which over time has enabled the Street Play Rangers to build strong relationships with the whole community.


  • Transport can prove to be tricky in terms of the logistics and often has an impact on the equipment and staff the organisation can provide at sessions.
  • Informing parents and the surrounding community about the Street Play Ranger service has been difficult so subsequently perceptions of what open access provision and what free play involves is quite often misunderstood.
  • Weather can be a challenge with the wind and rain being difficult and trying in the winter months.


1345-1351 Gallowgate, G314DN

Playbusters is a community project based in the East End of Glasgow supporting children and young people and their families through free play, creative arts and physical activity.


Playbusters is a mobile Play Ranger service in the East End of Glasgow operating in local play areas and primary schools. The service's main aim is to enable children to get back to grass roots by literally playing outdoors as well as encouraging young people to engage with others lowering the risk of antisocial behaviour.

The team consists of one part-time worker that plans, organises and delivers sessions but rely heavily on sessional workers and volunteers to help with delivering the service provision.


The street Play Rangers have built strong relationships with the children in the East End by providing activities that build self-esteem and encourage a sense of ownership in their parks, street and open spaces.

The Play Rangers have been very successful in bringing together children, parents and carers to develop opportunities in the local community. A local community centre who had a lot of trouble with young people in the area recently reported that they don't get any hassle since the sessions started for the young people.

The Play Rangers encourage the involvement of children and young people within the service encouraging volunteering opportunities where they present themselves.


  • Play rangers provide children with role models and build positive relationships with children gaining their trust and respect. This unique position within the community means that effective engagement and preventative work has been achieved.
  • Providing a consistent provision with a small team of workers and volunteers dedicated to providing a quality play provision.
  • The team has developed good multi agency approach building lots of strong relationships with other organisations.
  • The sessions give the children the opportunity to discover and realise their creative potential as well as manage their risks through play.


  • Weather can be a challenge with the wind and rain being difficult and trying in the winter months.
  • Maintaining a regular funding stream to ensure long term sustainability, although evidence developed through Go2Play supports funding applications.
  • Convincing parents about the importance of letting their children play outside regularly, all year round and the benefits that this can bring.

Stranraer YMCA

Thistle Business Park, Station Street, Stranraer

Stranraer YMCA works to enable children and young people to grow to their full potential by providing a supportive and inclusive environment. The mission is to empower and motivate children and young people in our community, including those who are disadvantaged through social, economic and emotional deprivation.


The Stranraer Play Ranger Service provides opportunities for children and young people to play, be physically active, to learn, develop and grow. Six Play Ranger/ youth workers deliver play ranging services to schools, nurseries, after school park sessions and youth groups from the age of 3-16 years taking groups of up to children. They recognise the barriers that children, young people and families face so aim to ensure access to opportunities within the community. During the school holidays the team provides an open access holiday programme which is very popular and easily accessed by the local community.

The Play Rangers adopt a child centred approach and maximise the involvement of children, young people and adults within the community to develop and support the organisation by providing volunteer opportunities for young people aged 16+ as well as families encouraging them to get involved, learn and develop within the community.


Since 2009 children have benefitted from the free play sessions during and after school park sessions, holiday programmes as well as school sessions. The children enjoy being more physically active engaging in play that enables them to risk assess and solve problems by themselves. The fun and active nature of this is enabling the play rangers to be excellent role models for the children and young people which is working well for children in this socially deprived area.

The project has been developing the Mini Play Rangers aspect to the service and has run a four week pilot programme in 3 local primary schools for P6's - P7's. The programme included four weeks of training with qualified Play Rangers which recorded fantastic progress. On graduation from the programme the Mini Play Rangers were able to lead on play within school playgrounds.

Due to its success in these schools the training was shared with other Play Rangers from across Scotland, enabling them to go on and deliver the programme in schools, as well as requests to deliver workshops at partner conferences e.g. Education Scotland.


  • A committed, passionate and dedicated staff bring a variety of strengths and experiences which provides a great all round team.
  • The team has developed a strong partnership approach which strengthens its position and identity within the community. Partners include schools, DG council Leisure and sport, Quarriers and Out of the Box.
  • Built strong relationships and trust within the community, which in turn informs the team on how improve and develop the service provision.


  • Informing parents and children within the community about what the service is about and way that it operates is difficult and can be misinterpreted.

The Zone

10 High Main Street, Dalmellington, KA6 7QN

Providing facilities for play, recreation, leisure and educational opportunities for children, young people and local community of the Doon Valley and East Ayrshire area.


The Zone is a multifunctional project delivering dynamic childcare, youth, training and employment services to the East Ayrshire community. The Zone's Go2Play project is a mobile play ranger service in East Ayrshire operating in and around nine local primary schools. The service's main aim is to enable children to get back to grass roots - by literally playing outdoors.

The team consists of three trained and skilled workers who deliver play ranging services to schools, after school clubs and care/youth groups taking groups of up to 15 children out for a morning or afternoon sessions. During the school holidays the team also offer popular open access play ranger sessions in the local community

Sessions typically involve taking the children into the outdoors and encouraging free play opportunities, such as nature walks, shelter, bridge, cloud watching, outdoor cooking and den building, also identifying nature and so on.


Many children are benefiting from this outdoor service provision during curriculum time enjoying being more physically active and engaging in play that enables them to take risks and solve problems by themselves. The fun and active nature of this has enabled the play rangers to be viewed as excellent role models for the children, which schools have noted is working well for children who find school and peer relationships difficult.


  • Building strong and positive relationships with children and making strong community links by providing a clear identity and purpose.
  • Providing a consistent and creative play provision with a small yet strong team of dedicated staff committed to quality play opportunities.
  • Allowing children to actively enjoy school, building self-esteem and confidence through play to challenge bullying and discrimination.


  • Convincing schools about the importance of play for children's well-being and the long terms benefits that supporting this can bring.
  • Getting teachers to understand the concept and value behind the project ethos and its value within the school.