Take the Survey for Playwork
05 January 2015
A steering group is continuing to explore the options
for a new vehicle for playwork - and is calling on the field to
respond in numbers to a survey that will help assess its
A Facebook group has recently been hosting a 'Conversation for
Authentic Playwork'. Dealing mainly with issues and questions of
practice, it has highlighted the daily challenges of front-line
playwork and offered some stimulating, occasionally heated, debates
about the playwork approach.
What most members of this group would acknowledge, I am sure, is
that whatever the tenets of good practice and how they might be
applied in any given situation, the context for authentic playwork,
however it is defined, has never been tougher.
It is not simply that jobs, projects and whole services are
disappearing - and seem likely to continue to do so - but that some
providers of the remaining services would appear to have very
little understanding of what playwork really is.
The playwork principles may demand of practitioners that the
'play process takes precedence and playworkers act as advocates for
play when engaging with adult led agendas' but when employers - and
inspectors - fail to understand what this means, or even recognise
the principles themselves, this cannot be easy.
Concerned about the prospects for a profession still in its
infancy in the face of the radical contraction of public services,
the abandonment of the Play Strategy and the 'back to basics'
approach to children's services taken by the Coalition Government,
in July 2013, Bob Hughes and the late Professor Perry Else called a
meeting to look at how the field might respond.
Since the Sheffield summit, a number of those who attended have
been exploring the possibilities for a new vehicle for playwork in
the UK, which could promote and campaign for it, work to raise its
status, support research, develop good practice, influence policy
and offer services and benefits to playworkers.
There have been open meetings, website postings and a table at
the national Playwork Conference in March 2014. A steering group
has now been formed, and around 150 practitioners, trainers and
advocates across the UK have signed a broad statement of aims and
principles that should underpin any new body.
The steering group now wants to explore in a bit more depth the
viability of a new body, which means developing and assessing the
sustainability of a business model for it. As part of this research
everyone in the UK playwork field is invited to complete a
It remains to be seen if a new vehicle for playwork is viable -
at a time when there are more closures than start-ups in the public
and voluntary sectors - but the long-term survival of playwork as a
distinct approach and a recognised vocation may depend upon the
As well as completing the survey, if you broadly endorse this
approach and might be interested in joining it once it is formed,
please e-mail email@example.com 'Playwork
EOI' as the subject. We will then add you to the mailing list.
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