Scotland's Play Strategy: Playing with quality and equality: a review of inclusive play in Scotland

A review of inclusive play in Scotland.

9. Positive support for play - adults' survey

As this domain is broad we asked respondents which aspect they were particularly concerned with: 59% of respondents were concerned with workforce, 42% leadership, 44% third sector and infrastructure, 11% media (Total respondents 114)

In the context of Positive Support for Play, what do you feel are barriers to being able to support and promote children and young people's participation in play?

Figure 15 Adults' survey response

Figure 15 Adults' survey response

In relation Positive Support for Play, perhaps reflecting the range this domain covers, there was a fairly even spread across the barriers identified as having an impact.

Again, training was commented on by many respondents:

"I think we are at a turning point with up-skilling the workforce - new degree, new HNs & VQs I think it is time to take stock not of the content per say but of the delivery of the qualifications underpinning the degree "

"I think the training we receive allows for knowledge, but knowledge alone cannot change attitudes. I think training should work toward increasing our empathy."

It is evident that not every play worker needs to be trained in every skill which potentially helps any child who might be part of their service. However, it was suggested that every service (and groups of services in the same area) should be able to build levels of skills and experience over time, to be able to brush up skills when needed, and to be able to access information and support etc.

In this context, would you suggest play opportunities should be supported and promoted in a way that is different in some way to the way it is currently?

"Play should be encouraged more in older children (secondary school age) as much as the younger children. It can be called other things - e.g. fun activities/creative pursuits - but it should essentially be playful."

"More support and training for staff with additional support in place from the beginning."

"Stronger leadership from Scottish Government is required in order to move play up the political agenda"

"With regard to the media, there is a great deal of work to be done to end gender stereotyping in children's TV and films. The media should promote a more equal and inclusive vision of play than is currently offered to children, and does not promote active play as something mainly undertaken by boys."

"Positive promotion of inclusive, risky outdoor play in a similar vein to the PlayTalkRead campaign."

"Local papers let you know what activities you have missed. A central accurate information source of leisure activities - probably on-line, which all families can access"

"Services which support play opportunities should be financially supported by local authorities. The lack of sufficient funding available to ensure the long term sustainability of these vital children's services is a huge barrier to the development and understanding of the sector"

In this context, can you give us any examples of times when things were set up really well, support was offered in such a way that really helped, or in which children and young people's wishes were genuinely respected in a way that helped them feel included?

"The were some pro-social behaviour pilots carried out in 2010 in partnership with Young Scot and Local Authorities through Cashback funding. Aberdeenshire organised meetings which brought the community together to present young people in a more realistic and positive light than those sent out by the media. There were a number of opportunities for the young people to shape the opportunities that were available to them, such as hang out shelters which were covered spaces that they felt safe to meet up but were unsupervised as they wanted a sense of freedom. These spaces would be separate to play parks for younger children so parents and younger children would not feel threatened when going out to play."

"I had long meetings and many calls to assist a child with specific needs throughout the summer holidays, it was very difficult to get funding to cover staffing, in the end the child came to us and Mum and Dad out of their social work fund paid for staff wages and we gave free childcare so as to give the child valuable play and integration opportunities as well as giving Mum and Dad respite. Staff went on a course to learn sign language also. The benefits were great for all involved and especially the child. She loved her time with us and we got positive feedback from parents."

This is the outcome we are aiming for

"Scotland provides a positive environment for play through: a professional workforce, strong and visionary leadership, a well-resourced third sector and infrastructure, and a supportive and informed media" Play Strategy for Scotland: Our Vision (2013) Scottish Government.

These are things that would help to achieve this

It would help if:

  • In keeping with the United Nation's General Comment on article 31, all professionals working with or for children, or whose work impacts on children, received systematic and ongoing training on the human rights of children, including article 31 (which encompasses the right to play).
  • Coverage of key elements of play training was introduced or increased for all those whose work has an impact, indirectly and directly, on children's play.
  • A central Online Hub of information was developed to support inclusive practice in relation to play and to provide information about specific skills, knowledge and practices which can be utilised in mainstream, inclusive children's settings. This should be easily accessible to all those who work for or with children with input from children and young people, third sector play and disability organisations and should make use of specialist expertise that already exists in Scotland and elsewhere.
  • Further and long term investment was made in capacity building models of support to play providers in order to include disabled children and young people. This not only ensures the inclusion of disabled children and young people in play provision but builds the skills, knowledge and confidence of the play workforce ensuring sustainability.
  • Provision for play, play environments and support to play opportunities in whatever form (infrastructure, training, advice, campaigns, service provision, policies) located non-discrimination, equality of opportunity and participation as standing principles in every action, programme or measure.
  • A set of "Test Questions" was developed and introduced for play programmes, practice and environments which encourage progressive action and accountability.


Email: Deborah Gallagher

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