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

A review of inclusive play in Scotland.

Appendix 3

Table of recommendations: section by section

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 Visio (2013) Scottish Government.

In order to achieve this, it would help if the following actions were undertaken.

5. Children and Young People: Survey and Consultation Packs

It would help if:

  • Within a more coordinated approach, more care was taken to understand children and young people's daily experience of play: that is, to try to understand play in the pattern of a child's whole day and broader experience, taking into account time to play, space to play and suitable support to play in all of the settings the child spends time in.
  • Design and management of play spaces, particularly in schools, was improved; spaces conducive to different ways of playing were included, and areas with a feeling of calm, security and quiet were available to children who choose them. (See also sections 6, 7, 8 and 15 for comments and recommendations on physical environments).
  • Designated play spaces were looked after better, and children and young people were involved in decisions about them.
  • Resources were directed to shared, playable spaces where children and young people could find inclusive opportunities to play particularly in their local neighbourhood environment.
  • There were greater opportunities for participation of children and young people in decisions which impact directly and indirectly on their opportunities to play.
  • Informed support to play was available in settings where children and young people spend their time.

6. In the Home and Family Environment

It would help if:

  • There was a large scale, properly resourced campaign undertaken to promote the importance of play to parents and carers, and to those who work with them (taking into account of quality and equality in play, therefore children's play rights including the play rights of disabled children and young people).
  • The value of play was understood by professionals and organisations working for, or with, children and those whose work has an impact on children's play.
  • A coordinated approach was taken between third sector, government and public agencies to ensure 'reach' of the key messages.
  • There was coordinated work to improve the child- and play-friendly design of interior and exterior spaces at the earliest stages in development of housing stock.
  • Support around play was available to families of disabled children at the earliest stages of the child's life through both universal provision and the third sector services.

See also Emergent Themes

7. At Nursery, School, Early Learning and Childcare

It would help if:

  • Equality training was undertaken by all the members of the school community - adults, children and young people.
  • There was a serious examination at national level of what quality play provision for all children would look like in schools, including dialogue about the nature of 'free play'.
  • There was play training in teaching qualifications (Initial Teacher Education onwards).
  • The skills of play workforce were utilised in schools.
  • Attention was given to playtime and lunchtime in schools taking into account the need for appropriate resources, design of outdoor spaces and management of outdoor spaces including in Granted Aided Special Schools and Special Schools.
  • Principles of Access for All and Universal Design [6] were promoted for the design and development of play spaces in nursery, school, early learning and childcare.
  • The role and job descriptions of staff with responsibility for playground supervision were developed reflecting play principles, and with suitable training available to support this.
  • There was ready access to practical information and advice to assist with meeting the needs of individual children. (See Online Hub, Positive Support for Play)
  • A strong high-level lead was given by the Scottish Government and Community Planning Partnerships to implementing the Risk-Benefit Assessment approach to play in all settings in which children spend time encompassing clear support for the Risk-Benefit approach to disabled children's play opportunities (see also Section 16)
  • Work was done with parents through nursery, school, early learning and childcare, to increase understanding of the value of play.
  • The role of Playgroups, Toddler Groups and Childminders, often the first play settings outside the family for very young children, was recognised (though support, training, etc.) as having particular importance to supporting inclusion in the very early years.

8. In the Community

It would help if:

  • The Risk-Benefit Assessment approach was firmly embedded and implemented consistently. (See also Section 7 above)
  • Schemes such as Play Rangers / Community Playworkers were extended so that there is visible support to play in play spaces, parks and neighbourhood spaces.
  • In every Local Authority/Community Planning Partnership area Play Policies, Strategies and accompanying Action Plans were developed which include explicit aims, objectives and actions to make tangible progress towards inclusive practices, programmes and environments.
  • Communities were invited to contribute and engage in local programmes and activities.
  • A positive lead was given by the Play Strategy Implementation Group to development of a network of "play champions" underpinned by the principles set out in the Play Strategy and the UN Convention article 31; with explicit reference to progress on inclusion - non-discrimination, equality of opportunity, participation - as integral to the role.

9. Positive Support for Play

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.

11. Multiple Barriers

Disabled and disadvantaged children and young people in Scotland face multiple barriers to being able to play at home, at nursery, school, early learning and childcare and in the community

It would help if:

  • The 'stepping stone' effect was examined more carefully to find ways to ensure it is as effective as it can be in practice - are there lessons to learn? How can we services learn from each other?
  • There was consideration of what quality play provision look like in schools. (See also section 7) Children and young people spend much of their time in school and many everyday opportunities for inclusion in and through play arise in schools.
  • There was a high profile campaign about play with an explicitly inclusive approach as has been called for throughout the review (see also Section 6)

12. Coordination

Significantly more attention should be given to coordination across services and geographic areas to achieve inclusive opportunities

It would help if:

  • Coordinated approaches were put in place so that the services offered in local area were properly mapped, assessed and coordinated.
  • Exercises to map services, skills and opportunities were carried out regularly.
  • Local Authority Play Strategies were developed to underpin such an approach and support given to Local Play Associations or Forum (see also Section 8).
  • The 'play sufficiency' model was investigated in order to apply lessons learnt in Scotland. (Section 11 of the Children and Families (Wales) Measure 2010 places a duty on local authorities to assess and secure sufficient play opportunities for children in their area.)
  • Across a geographic area or group of settings, systems were established to support 'banks' of skills, information and expertise with regard to specific skills and understanding that support inclusion in play.
  • Increased support was available to those organisations which have contact with disabled children and their families very early on in the child's life.

13. Low-Key, Everyday Actions

Low-key, everyday actions might make a big difference

It would help if:

  • Training and ongoing support emphasised the importance of everyday low-key actions as a dimension of quality.
  • This dimension of quality was reflected in how play provision is (self-) monitored and evaluated.
  • Everyday low-key actions are recognised and celebrated at practice, management levels and inspection levels.

14. Time

The time available to practitioners is a significant factor in their ability to put into practice inclusive actions and approaches

It would help if:

  • Play, childcare and other services where play happens were adequately resourced.
  • Local Play Associations and Forums, and Play Development Officers (Local Authorities and third sector) are supported so that they can develop support, coordinate and pool resources for shared use and benefit
  • Capacity building and models such as cascade training are more widely available and delivered throughout Scotland (see also Section 9)

15. Physical Environments

The quality of physical environments makes a hugely significant different to the quality of children and young people's experience and opportunities for play

It would help if:

  • With regard to public space and the built environment, principles of Universal Design [7] were taken into account.
  • Pro-active measures were taken to improve the day-to-day play environments offered by schools. It was acknowledged that improvements are arising due to input from organisations such as Grounds for Learning, some local authorities and by the efforts and fundraising of individual schools however play environments in schools were widely remarked upon.
  • Within qualifications for people working for or with children including teachers and playworkers, the Qualification Authority and providers addressed the knowledge and skills gap in creating and sustaining the physical environment for play and inclusion.(See also 18)
  • Community Planning Partnerships and communities used the Place Standard (in development at the time of writing this report [8]) to improve the quality of places and support the Play Strategy vision.
  • The Place Standard was into account in reporting on the new duties to report on progress on children's rights and wellbeing included parts 1 and 3 of the Children and Young People (Scotland) Act 2014.

16. Rules and Regulations

The application (and misapplication) of rules and regulations negatively impacts on the quality of opportunities for play

It would help if:

  • The Risk- Benefit approach, were firmly embedded and consistently implemented throughout the hierarchy of structures within which children's play opportunities happen on a daily basis. That is, consistently implemented and integrated through all levels - practice, management, training, development and support, communications, strategy, policy, inspection, legislation (see also Section 7).

17. Confidence and Awareness

Building confidence and awareness around the value of play would support inclusive play opportunities for all children.

In this section we would reiterate the recommendations made in Section 6 (Play at Home and in the Family Environment)

18. Training and Ongoing Support

Practitioners and professionals in a number of disciplines are not sufficiently equipped by training and ongoing support to ensure all our children and young people have the play opportunities to which they have a right.

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.

Play Strategy for Scotland:

Our Action Plan sets out actions that take us forward in realising the vision for play.


"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.


We should value all children and young people

We should enable all children and young people to realise their right to play

All children and young people should have sufficient space and time to play




Email: Deborah Gallagher

Back to top