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

A review of inclusive play in Scotland.

1. Introduction

"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.

In 2013, the Scottish Government published the Play Strategy for Scotland: Our Action Plan in order to support implementation of its Vision for play. A review of 'Inclusive Play' was quickly highlighted as a priority within the Plan underpinning as it does the principles set out in the Plan.

Principles: In the home, at nursery and school and in every community:

  • 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 space and time to play (The Sufficiency Principle)

The Play Strategy draws particular attention to the play rights of disabled children and those from disadvantaged backgrounds; the principle of inclusion runs as a thread throughout the Strategy and Plan. It is well documented however that there are children and young people, individually or in groups, who are excluded or hindered from participating fully in play due to physical, social or cultural circumstances and it is with these children and young people in mind that the Inclusive Play Review was undertaken.

The purpose of the review, commissioned in July 2014, was to investigate 'inclusive play' in Scotland in order to identify context, current practices, barriers and aspirations. The review was asked to set out recommendations and the stated intention is for the findings to inform implementation of the Play Strategy more broadly.

The National Play Strategy Vision and Action Plan place play within four 'domains':

  • In the home
  • At nursery and school
  • In the community
  • Positive support and environment

The scope of each domain is suggested in the desired outcomes for each, which are that:

  • Our homes and family environments are places where all children and young people enjoy plentiful play opportunities, appropriate to their age, stage, needs and preferences.
  • All children and young people enjoy high quality play opportunities, particularly outdoor free play in stimulating spaces with access to nature, on a daily basis in school, nursery and early learning and childcare.
  • All children have sufficient time and space (physical and social) for playing within their community and have contact with nature in their everyday lives. Play is valued, encouraged and supported in communities, as are providers of community play such as out of school care, playgroups, therapeutic and specialist settings and community champions of play
  • 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 Action Plan (2013) Scottish Government

While recognising that children's experience of play in these domains overlaps and interlinks, the domains structure and the outcomes helped to shape the implementation of the review.

The review was carried out by Theresa Casey Consultancy and Play First (Scotland) Ltd over July, August and September 2014 with support from Grefintec for the survey. The Literature Review which preceded it was carried out by the Scottish Government, in May and June 2014. The Review was overseen by Capability Scotland on behalf of the Play Strategy Implementation Group (PSIG).


Email: Deborah Gallagher

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