18. Training and Ongoing Support
Addressing a gap in training and ongoing support for practitioners and professionals in a number of disciplines would help to ensure all our children and young people have the play opportunities to which they have a right.
This theme was succinctly summarised by participants in one of the review events.
"There is a lack of knowledge/understanding of:
- What play is
- Why it matters
- The benefits of play
- How it can affect parents and children"
"Play training should be seen as integral in the skillset of all workers involved with children and should be part of a more creative, practical and robust professional qualification framework that supports and promotes the quality play practitioner within this country."
In exploring questions around how to improve inclusion, capacity building was a common theme:
"My view has always been that disabled children and young people should always be considered in every setting/eventuality/circumstance, and that staff training is the biggest barrier to this not happening. This is where I see the capacity building remit being focused."
"Often mainstream groups that intend to be inclusive and open to all cannot support the needs of the children we work with because they do not have staff that have the skills to communicate with them (e.g. if the child uses sign language, or perhaps has no formal language), or enough staff to provide the level of support needed. Other barriers are staff not being trained or insured to administer medication children need, e.g. for epilepsy. Or the service may have changing beds but they're not height adjustable and have no sides so they are not suitable to keeping the young person safe. Children and young people therefore need specialist provision and this can be very limited, or non-existent, especially in more rural areas."
"To have a professional workforce you need to support their learning and development and then reward accordingly. The majority of my staff earn £7.50 per hour - they would earn more on a till in a supermarket. The managers of the service would also have a higher salary if they managed a store. If the government really believed in the value of play then it would recognise this and staff would be paid on par with teachers".
How has your organisation tried to overcome barriers to inclusive play opportunities?
"Training - workshops - partnering up with different organisations - some focused work, project work and some that is open and free for all"
"We brought in an outside provider for a staff training day on holding our session in local woodland. We now have the confidence and building experience of taking our children out to the woodland on a regular basis. The children get so much enjoyment from these sessions and you can see the less confident bloom in different surroundings."
"I would think that consideration should be given to more of a focus on 'inclusive play' through the SQA (Scottish Qualification Authority) qualifications for Playworkers."
Children need to be able to play in their own way. A note of caution was sounded that we may need to be alert to promoting particular types of play as the 'ideal' when for some children and young people they simply would not be what they would choose freely or find satisfying. For example it was suggested that social, messy, outdoor or unstructured play is often portrayed as if it is inherently 'better' for all children, regardless of the child's own disposition.
This is the vision
"We want Scotland to be the best place to grow up. A nation which values play as a life-enhancing daily experience for all our children and young people; in their homes, nurseries, schools and communities." Play Strategy for Scotland: Our Vision (2013) Scottish Government.
These are some of the things that could help achieve this.
It would help if:
- There was more practical facilitation of play in all qualifications
- Scottish Social Services Council (SSSC), Care Inspectorate and Scottish Governments agendas were better linked and updated in relation to each other
- Care Inspectorate were to be involved in progression on the Play Strategy
In this section we would reiterate the recommendations made in Section 7 (Nursery, School, Early Learning and Childcare) and Section 9 (Positive Support for Play). We would also like to make reference to the forthcoming Play Strategy Implementation Group's Review of Current Levels of Play Training provided to School and Nursery Staff which was taking place concurrently with this review.
Email: Deborah Gallagher