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The Tracks 2023

Explore the tracks for 2023! 

Do note that the times, sessions, and tracks they are on may change



Legacy of Bob Hughes

Bob Hughes, who died in November 2022, was the parent of modern playwork. Many of the aspects of current thinking in playwork practice came from the brain of Bob Hughes, forged in the cauldron of his practical experience and his academic thinking. This track pays tribute to this legacy through playworkers talking about how a particular aspect of Bobs thinking and writing has affected the way they do their playwork.


Playwork Theory

Historically, playwork theory has been limited to psycholudics, play types, compound flexibility, loose parts, and the playwork curriculum. But there is new, emerging, playwork theories, so we want to look at how we use the historical theories and what the new theories can give us to improve the way we work.


Playwork in Schools

With the growing attention to the child’s need to play in school breaktimes, and the benefit that has to the learning opportunities across the whole school, and the increasing number of people involved in playwork thinking in schools, this track aims to explore the evidence that supports the benefits of playwork practice in schools; the barriers that have to be overcome; and the skills that a school’s playteam needs to have. 


Risk through the Ages

Understanding the importance of children engaging in risk in their play; thinking about the risk taking behaviours of different ages of children; the neuroscience of risk taking; and an understanding of how attitudes towards children and risk in their play has changed, is what this track is all about. 


New Research

The lack of rigorous academic research in the playwork sector has often been commented on but recently there have been a significant number of playwork people working on and completing PhD’s - this track presents some of the findings from recent doctoral graduates. 


Practical Sessions

If one is sticking to a pure playwork approach, then one knows that running activities could be seen as adult led and not freely chosen by the child. However, there are times when it is entirely appropriate for the playworker to offer a new experience to the children who attend their setting, and to spark play opportunities by delivering a specific play opportunity. In addition, the sessions in this track do provide the conference participant with both the opportunity to take a new idea back to their setting, but even more the chance to have a bit of play for themselves.  





This is the National Playwork Conference so we need a track just about playwork and in this track we are going to be argumentative, thought provoking and reflective. We will be talking about what playwork is and what it can achieve.


Diversity and Inclusion

In our rush to provide stimulating and quality play spaces for children, it is often that settings do not fully consider how they make themselves inclusive and/or welcoming to children and their families from diverse backgrounds. In this track, we will hear examples of good practice, and question what we need to do in the playwork sector to support inclusion of all people, not just the children, but in our workforces as well. 



If a playworker’s role is to support the play process, then a full understanding of play is paramount to good playwork practice. But the playworker’s understanding of play needs to be more than playwork principle 2 ‘freely chosen, personally directed, and intrinsically motivated’. In this track we want to explore some different approaches to play, from gamers to neuroscience, from old theorists to modern thinkers. 


Playwork in non-traditional environments

Playwork as an approach to supporting children’s play that is freely chosen, personally directed and intrinsically motivated is recognised as the most appropriate way of working in adventure playgrounds and after school clubs but it is also the way that works well in other settings and other approaches in providing the opportunity to play. Here about those provisions in this track.


Policy and Strategy Work

In order for the playwork sector to have the opportunity for growth, and to be in a position where it can effectively lobby across the UK’s political structures, we need to understand how to influence policy; how to prepare and present strategies; and how to present the case for the playwork approach to children’s play.


Playwork Foundation

The Playwork Foundation aims to promote Playwork to policy makers, parents, the media and the world at large, so that over time, more children benefit from the Playwork approach. Our aim is also to support the Playwork community, working with partners and allies to strengthen our network.


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The National Playwork Conference is brought to you by: Training, Playwork and Play CIC: 13575861 11 Beachy Head Road, Eastbourne BN20 7QN 01323 730500