News Archive

Play Work

Posted on Monday, January 13, 2003

London Play Work Conference launches campaign for statutory funding

Considered debate on all aspects of playwork led to the London Conference on Playwork calling for a national campaign to achieve statutory funding for open access play work. While the Education Act of 1996 requires local authorities to guarantee extra curricula activities for children outside schools, this does not make the statutory provision of play work a requirement. This must be addressed by all those concerned with Play Work.  

The National Children’s Play Council produced policy objectives which all those involved with play fully support. We need a national development strategy for play work and sustainable funding. The New Opportunities Funding does not guarantee or provide these objectives. The right to children’s play, like the Youth Service, must be enshrined in legislation. The right of a child to play is the equivalent to the trade union right to association or to movement and freedom of association. Play is not a leisure service. The freedom of children to develop their own creative potential through play is a fundamental right. 

The Conference hoped that these important principles would be picked up by Frank Dobson MP in his current review of play services. 

As Adrian Voce put it to the Conference “children’s play has been misunderstood and undervalued, and subsumed in a thousands other agendas. It has found its way amids a myriad of other agendas, it should now stand on its own and get full government support. If the government’s objective is to halve child poverty, it should consider different factors which contribute towards child poverty and the lack of play facilities is a crucial element.” Adrian will be addressing CYWU National Conference. 

Conference condemns Lambeth Play Cuts 

Play Work Conference delegates in London condemned the 50% play service cuts proposed in Lambeth.  CYWU officers and London Playwork Branch member will join all those campaigning against the unnecessary cuts in Lambeth. CYWU General Secretary commented: “Lambeth seem to have missed most of the points recently made by the government and local government leaders and the profession about play work. Play work transforms lives and improves education attainment. Every cut is a blow to children’s rights and short sighted. Lambeth appears to be reinventing the eighties when all we did was fight the cuts.”

Start Playing About

In a lively contribution to the play work conference, Keith Cantrell, lecturer in Play and Youth Studies at Thurrock College, commented on the spaces between the idealism of professions and needs based campaign and the demands of the state. He commented on how the needs of the government of the day is often expressed in a variety of training courses and qualifications and how this is held in creative tension with what the field wants to develop for itself and the protection of its own values. He demonstrated how learning about play is different from doing play work and argued stongly that policy and academic learning would both be strengthened if more field work staff wrote up their practice. CYWU hopes that more play workers will write up their practice and consider publishing this in Rapport and through the Union.

Conference condemns Ofsted lack of clarity

Delegates to the play workers conference condemned the lack of consistency in appreciating the national qualifications framework for play. “it’s either anything goes, or a nationally agreed list of approved qualifications” said one delegate. Ofsted should be ensuring that all play work providers are qualified according to the national framework. But in practice this is not always done.

PYO argues for play work and youth work

The advantages of having a combined play work/you work service were illustrated by Janine Brady, PYO in Islington in a speech which now appears on CYWU’s website. Janine argued for a well resourced and supported professional workforce in each area as the key to provision. JNC pay and conditions for both play workers and youth workers are paid in Islington. Children and young people required further integration and harmonisation and in this regard welcomed the current drafting of a more coherent strategy by the Children’s and Young People’s Unit. “Like play workers” she said, “policy makers are never stuck for an activity if there is junk around, but we have currently so many funding streams and so much potential we can really make a difference.”

Quality Training

An important Conference to consider the future impact of training on play work will be held under the auspices of the Joint National Committee for Training for Play work on Monday March 31st, 2003, 10.00am-4.30pm at the Showroom Cinema, Sheffield, 7 Paternastor Row. Email [email protected] for further details.

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