Meynell Plays Ltd.
Meynell Plays Ltd.

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TRACK 1: My understanding of playROOM 3
1.1back to the futureSue SaundersThis session will take a stroll down memory lane into the 50’s and look at play, what young people did and where they played. We will then fast forward to the present time, reflect back to the 80’s and explore what influences play today.

I will be using examples of my own experience growing up in London in the 50’s and my work from 1980 in play within early years and playwork.

I want to debate and share with you the factors that have changed over time, why and what we can do to redress the balance.
1 hour 30 minutes 10:00 - 11:30 ‘Tell me More’
1.2the oppressors’ understanding of playMike Wragg & Ben TawilChildren belong to an oppressed minority group, the attendant behaviours, cultural practices and terrains of which are systematically oppressed and colonised by a governing ideology of deficit and deviance.

As with most repressive ideologies this is a symptom of larger socio-political conditions informed by complex socialization processes.

To quash these ideologues we must gain an insight into their murky world by acknowledging, examining and understanding these processes.

If not we deal merely with symptoms, as we do when we attempt to redress racism with programmes that celebrate diversity but ignore systemic racism or when we respond to class inequality by studying a fictitious “culture of poverty” rather than attacking, or at least understanding the educational implications of the socio-political context of economic injustice.
1 hour 30 minutes 11:45 -13:15 ‘Make my Brain Hurt’
1.3my understanding of playPenny WilsonWhen people first hear of playwork, they often misunderstand the role of the playworker. “What? Must adults now tell children how to play?” they ask indignantly. “Can’t we just let them play as they want?”

This is a healthy reaction. Children need to organize and direct their own play. But the reality is that few of today’s children are allowed out to play freely, as earlier generations were.

Many have little experience with play and don’t know how to get started when given a chance. In recent surveys parents say they want their children to play freely, but with some adult support.

Playworkers fill this need. They create playful environments, support children’s own play, assess risk, and help out when needed, without directing or controlling. They strive to be as invisible as possible.

In this session Penny explores how her understanding of play has come through her journey in life.
1 hour 30 minutes 13:45 - 15:15 ‘Tell me More’
1.4my understanding of playMorgan Leichter-SaxbyOnce upon a time, Morgan thought that children were sticky, loud and irritating.

She bounced through a variety of enthusiasms such as art history, archaeology, natural building, activism and anthropology, wondering where on earth to focus her energies.

Her first experience of playwork was a visit to Evergreen adventure playground, where she arrived to begin an ethnographic project and promptly had her voice recorder and notepad stolen from her pockets. From then on she was hooked, recognizing her initial aversion as an unmet and inverted need for play.

Playwork provided a frame to understand this process of reconciliation with her playful self, and to help others by creating and improving opportunities for play throughout children's lives and landscapes. It has also provided a home for all of her different nerdy loves, and a career where every day is uniquely educational, full of humour and secretly subversive.

Her understanding of play is both academic and personal, and her approach within playwork is pragmatic, as well as poetic.
1 hour 30 minutes 15:30 - 17:00 ‘Make my Brain Hurt’
TRACK 2: Playwork theory - IntroductoryROOM 2
2.5playwork principles: from practice to play!Diane WenhamJoin Stevenage Playworkers (with over 90 years of combined playwork experience) for an interactive session piloting our new training pack. The workshop will examine some of the play principles using a combination of film, discussion and activities. Using comments from children and playworkers, and footage of children at play you will gain an insight into principles- ‘from practice to play’.

The workshop will focus in depth on the practical application of the first two Play Principles, looking at Legislation, playworkers as facilitators, the child’s need to play, fears, phobias and risk.

At the end of the workshop, there will be the opportunity for you to comment on and feed into the development of the training pack which will embrace all the playwork principles and will be available later this year.
1 hour 10:15 -11:15 ‘Tell me More’
2.6play typesMarion HeelasWe will be offering a light hearted relaxed session to help you familiarise yourself with the sixteen play types listed below and how you can introduce them in your play setting on a daily basis.

They are: Symbolic play, Rough and tumble Play, Socio-dramatic play, Social play,

Creative play, Communication play, Dramatic play, Deep play, Fantasy play, Exploratory play, Imaginative play, Locomotor play, Mastery play, Object play, Role play, and Recapitulative play.

Marian and Val have been working and training in playwork in Hampshire and Berkshire for many years and will introduce you to activities and resources that will help you to support the children and young people in your playwork setting to have the opportunity to freely choose different types of play.

You will be able to try some of these out and discuss them with others during the session and come away full of new ideas!
1 hour 11:45 – 12:45 ‘Tell me More’
2.7compound flexibility: if you don’t use it you lose it!Lynda RayCompound Flexibility is a term that we playworkers use regularly but I challenge you ……. do you really understand what it means?

I believe strongly that play is the universal language of childhood. It is through play that children understand each other & make sense of the world around them. So come & join me on the journey to explore this playwork theory term, as we discuss and evaluate the role of the playworker in creating the right conditions in the play environment that enables a child to grow towards fulfilment and self-realisation.

I dare you!!
1 hour 13:15 – 14:15 ‘Tell me More’
2.8play cyclePolly BlaikieAlso known as Psycholudics…………… this certainly blew my mind when I first learnt about this theory and I’ve found it to be of great use as well as help me to be much more sensitive when interacting with children’s play frames.

If this intrigues you then come along to this introductory workshop and consider ways it could be of use to you as a Playworker.
1 hour 14:30 – 15:30 ‘Tell me More’
2.9loose partsNicole IoannouWhat are ‘loose parts’ and how do they fit in with playwork?

A cardboard tube can be many things in a child's mind; this workshop will explore the need to offer this opportunity and the importance of ensuring the resources are available.

This is a workshop full of fun and laughter (I hope!); just bring yourselves and a splash of imagination.
1 hour 15:45 – 16:45 ‘Tell me More’
TRACK 3: Children’s rightsROOM 4
3.10every child doesn't have rights & other children's rights issuesDavid StonehouseThis session will explore some of the main areas of children’s rights, from the Children Act 1989 & 2004, Every Child Matters (2004) and the United Nations Convention On The Rights Of The Child (1989)

Do children actually have any rights?

Do we as playworkers only pay lip service to the idea of rights or do we fight to ensure that all children are empowered and supported in attaining the rights they are entitled to?

The session will be delivered in a very informal way utilising a slide presentation. Questions, discussion and debate will be encouraged.
1 hour 30 minutes 10:00-11:30 ‘Tell me More’
3.11a sociological gaze at theories of play deprivationChris TaylorSociologists are notoriously stroppy!

So “let’s have a debate”!

This workshop will present a critical consideration of playwork theories of play deprivation, notably those of Fraser Brown and Bob Hughes raising issues for examination, agreement and dissent.

Come join in the deliberations.

“The unexamined life is not worth living.” Socrates: Twitter.
1 hour 30 minutes 11:45 – 13:15 ‘Make my Brain Hurt’
3.12is it the playworkers role to promote children's rights to children?Eddie NuttallIn the United Nations Convention on the Rights of the Child, Article 31.2 states that:

"States Parties shall respect and promote the right of the child to participate fully in cultural and artistic life and shall encourage the provision of appropriate and equal opportunities for cultural, artistic, recreational and leisure activity."

What does this article, and all the others that might be relevant for the children that we work for, mean from a playwork perspective?

• Given that our role in the children’s workforce is primarily to be in attendance of the child and their playful needs; Is it our business to talk about rights with children? In what ways do we actively show that children have value within our playful community?

• Do we have a responsibility to promote, discuss and advocate for the rights of children with other adults, both inside and outside of the setting? If we do, how might we go about this?

This session will take the form of a (hopefully colourful) debate, with prompts, provocations and case examples offered by the facilitator.
1 hour 30 minutes 13:45 – 15:15
3.13beyond children’s right to playStuart LesterThis workshop will extend ideas from ‘Children’s Right to Play’ (Lester and Russell, 2010) to explore the relationship between playing (Article 31) and other UNCRC articles.

It asks what appears to be a simple question ‘what does children’s right to play look like’ to problematize some of the ways that the article is used in isolation from other rights.

The session will pay particular attention to considering the conditions that support children’s opportunity to appropriate time/space for playing, and by doing raise some important questions about the ways in which adults ‘care’ for children’s play.
1 hour 30 minutes 15:30 – 17:00 ‘Make my Brain Hurt’
TRACK 4: Thinking about playwork practiceROOM 5
4.14flow: what is going on?Maggie Fearn, Morgan Leichter-Saxby and Pete KingFacilitated by three experienced practitioners, this experiential workshop will explore the potential for supporting children's play flow, via experiential activities and discussion.

Focusing on play as a flow state rather than on activity content is liberating, increases practitioner confidence, nurtures a personal philosophy of play and places the child at the centre of our work. It contributes to an appreciation of the developmental nature of play that supports practitioners in enhancing children’s repertoire of play skills.

Using multi-disciplinary literature, we will model a non-directive approach to engaging with children in play, which can facilitate flow, engagement and self-expression, across contexts and with children of all ages and abilities.

Participants will experience a 60 minute session of play supported by use of the non-directive method. Reflecting on the meaning of the terms ‘directive’ and ‘non directive’ via group discussion, we will consider how and why the modelled approach supports development in relation to children’s capacity for self-regulation, independent thought and action, resilience and well-being.

Delegates will:

• Be better informed about the connection between play and flow.

• Be better prepared to support children’s growing ability to play.

• Understand why nurturing children’s feelings of playfulness are important.

• Recognise the value of the interconnectedness of development and therapeutic potential in play
1 hour 45 minutes 10:00 – 11:45 ‘Tell me More’
4.15putting the playwork principles at the heart of what we doKaren BenjaminThey define play for us; they clearly define our role as playworkers; and they relate to essential play and playwork theory.

BUT how well do we know them and how essential are they to good playwork practice?

This workshop explores our understanding of the Playwork Principles, examines barriers to us putting them into practice, and asks us to evaluate personally how much we really put them at the heart of what we do
1 hour 30 minutes 12:15 – 13:45 ‘Tell me More’
4.16do we change play by observing it?Jacky KilvingtonPeople working in playwork are now encouraged, indeed often expected, to make observations of children playing, for a variety of reasons such as: providing a source of reflection; learning more about aspects of play; improving provision; responding to individual need; and so on.

But by observing it, do we change it? If we do, does the playing actually change or is it just changed in our minds?

If it is changed in either way, is it changed for the better, for the worse, does it just become different, or does it stay the way it is? Does it matter?

This workshop will consider whether observation is just another form of adulteration or whether it is the useful tool it is considered by some to be.

Expect controversy. Expect practical and theoretical involvement. Be prepared to challenge your own and others viewpoint.
1 hour 30 minutes 14:00 – 15:30 ‘Make my Brain Hurt’
4.17understanding methods of assessment especially for a taught courseJenny GallucciYou should come to this session if you are delivering and assessing the new QCF Playwork qualifications!

We will be looking at assessment methods appropriate for assessing in the classroom and training environment, in line with the QCF Assessment criteria for assessing vocational skills, knowledge and understanding - i.e. not in the workplace environment.
1 hour 30 minutes 15:30 – 17:00 ‘Tell me More’
TRACK 5: Playwork provision: neophillic approachesROOM 1
5.18keep playing online – using the internet to promote playEleanor Image & Suzannah WalkerJoin us for a frank discussion of how Play Associations and Play Projects can make the internet and social networking work for them.

Using their experience of creating the PATH Keep Playing website; we can give you an insight to some of the secrets of web design and further possibility.

From knowing what you want on your website to blogging and tweeting they’ll be inspiring you to expand your web presence.

As ever there will be plenty of top tips as well as the popular examples of how not to do it.
1 hour 10:30 – 11:30 ‘Tell me More’
5.19engaging communities using play as a catalystAndrew Gillan & Emma HamiltonThis lively and at times challenging workshop will focus on our work so far engaging community members to develop increased access to play opportunities for children and young people.

We will be reporting on our successes, our steep learning curve and the challenges that we faced on the way, and how these have refined our focus over time.

We do not seek to provide you with a list of definitive answers but we do invite you to join us in an investigation into the practical tips, pitfalls and true delights of engaging in similar work.
1 hour 11:45 - 12:45 ‘Tell me More’
5.20the treehouse projectAnita Grant & Wendy JeevesFrom inception in a wonderland in Germany to the 10th National Playwork Conference in Eastbourne via Islington and an international ‘right to play’ award.

Discover how IPA developed an innovative play project that was successfully funded by the Big Lottery Playful Ideas to give free access for children to use tools, drills, saws and the opportunity to build and shape their own environments through play. We explain how we managed to convince the adults in charge of the world to allow it to happen.

IPA is now using the experience and developing a new business strand running workshops and events in schools, on parks and in housing estates, creating a sustainable model, building partnerships and actually allowing the children to play…
1 hour 13:00 – 14:00 ‘Tell me More’

– 13:30
5.21playing in schoolsMichael FollettDrawing on eleven years of experience supporting play development in primary schools for Local Authorities, we will look at why play is so important to schools, what works, what doesn't ( I have tried them all) and what happens when you get it right.

We will look at the development of the OPAL program for primary school, which was the result of a trail and error process of play development in around 100 schools. We will share experiences of why schools struggle with play and find out how to improve play in schools without spending lots of money.

We will also have a look at the independent research carried out by Jones, Lester and Russel into OPAL, in the report published by Play England (NCB 2011) 'Supporting School Improvement Through Play', examining what Head Teachers said about the benefits of good play opportunities in their schools.

I will do my best to keep you entertained, including the use of a fake tin of beans, a chicken and a plant, involve you in discussion and exchange, and share some of the useful stuff I have picked up as the country's only full time local government school's play adviser.
1 hour 14:15 – 15:15 ‘Tell me More’
5.22adventure play: a challengeJess MilneA wonderful film of a new Adventure Playground in Iraq followed by a topical discussion on Adventure Playgrounds ….what defines one ??

Ten rules to define an Adventure Playground ? yes really ..no appeasement, no half measures, no fake words, nothing else …This is it – you think you have a definition of an Adventure Playground ? You think you work on an Adventure Playground ??

You think ??

Come and try it on …… if you dare .. a very public debate …

[P.S. By the way most Adventure Playgrounds are not !]
1 hour 15:45 – 16:45 ‘Make my Brain Hurt’
TRACK 6: interesting ways to thinkROOM 6
6.23edge of recalcitrance: repeatedArthur BattramIn these two linked sessions; Arthur Battram will explore the impact of this ground-breaking presentation from 2002.

The first session will be the presentation itself, a unique opportunity to see the whole thing and ask questions.

The presentations uses ideas from complexity science as outlined in his best-selling book 'Navigating Complexity: the essential guide to complexity theory in business and management' to illustrate some of the natural mechanisms at play in play.

The notion of ‘the edge’ is explored in various contexts, in the flocking behaviour of birds, the play of children and the behaviour of groups of humans.
1 hour 15 minutes 10:00 – 11:15 ‘Tell me More’
6.24the edge of recalcitrance: reloaded and remixedArthur BattramThe second of these two linked sessions will examine the ideas behind it, and how, as they have become mainstream notions in playwork, they have been misunderstood and misinterpreted, and what they can tell us in this new so-called ‘era of austerity’.

If you haven’t seen the presentation before, you should attend the first session before coming to the second.
1 hour 15 minutes11:30 – 12:45 ‘Make my Brain Hurt’
6.25evidencing the power of play as a resource for children in adversity.Maggie FearnHendry and Kloep (2002) propose that development occurs across the lifespan as a result of the dynamic interaction between life’s challenges and available resources. Rutter (1985) studied the mechanisms that balance protective and adverse factors. He suggests that the level of support available during the dynamic shift from being at risk to successful adaptation determines a child’s vulnerability.

Consistent with this framework, Fearn and Howard (2011) argue that play serves as one of many resource pools that influence children’s ability to meet challenge. They propose that the child’s perception of autonomy, control and independence during play creates a low risk environment for the development of skills and dispositions that contribute to self-regulation and emotional resilience.

Analysis of case studies focusing on interventions with children caught in the bombing of Beirut, children abandoned to the state system in Romania, and the street children in Rio de Janeiro and Cali, supports this view. The impact of adversity is particular to context, but comparison across contexts also shows connections between children’s disparate experiences.
Analysis confirms that given the opportunity, children interact with and influence their environment through play, and that this process provides a resource to meet the challenges of adversity.

Participants will have the opportunity to consider :

• how the interactive processes of development are supported through play

• the vital importance of play in the development of children’s resilience and ability to cope with adversity

• how therapeutic play practice can encourage and support children’s play in different cultures and contexts

This paper was first presented at Children and War: Past and Present International Conference at Salzburg University 2010.
1 hour 30 minutes 13:00 - 14:30 ‘Make my Brain Hurt’
6.27towards not taking play seriously (it’s far too important for that)Wendy RussellThis workshop will explore the politics of playwork through looking at ideas of how playspace is produced.

In its justification for its own existence, playwork argues that play is serious stuff. Maybe this is because we think playwork will only be taken seriously if we can put a functional outcome onto play – it exists to fulfil some purpose. This means we look at both play and playwork (for they are different things) as something to do with time (development, evolution, a better world, futurity …).

This is understandable, even necessary, but my contention is that we have been focusing too much on this aspect of play and playwork.

Looking at theories of space (particularly the work of Lefebvre) can offer up hope to see those ridiculous, fleeting, everyday moments of sheer nonsense that light our playwork day as the essence of our work.
1 hour 30 minutes 15:30 – 17:00 ‘Make my Brain Hurt’
TRACK 7: Exploring outdoor spacesROOM 8
7.28N.I. at playCaroline Kerr & Sharron DonnellyWe want share the experience of how our journey from playworkers who deliver training to business women and practicing playworkers has developed.

We also want to share with you how we develop and create play spaces when we go into different settings to work with the children and young people. How we struggle to inspire and motivate staff to engage the children they work with in outdoor play and create a playful space that appeals to a wide audience and age range of children.

To do this we will be showing you photographs of our work and invite discussion and debate on whether we have got it right or if you have other suggestions based on your own experiences.

We also want you to experience some of what we offer settings when they book us for a practical play session.

We plan to engage you in quick games and some art & crafts during which we can have some group discussions and send you home with practical ideas as well as food for thought regarding your outdoor space.
1 hour 30 minutes 10:00 – 11:30 ‘Tell me More’
7.29exploring nature play: what works?Mick ConwayThis session is about practical things that we found worked for children on their own terms – how they went from ‘yuck to yummy’ when exploring nature.

We all know that children love and are curious about nature – don’t we? So how come fewer than 25% of children play out in their local patch of nature compared to over 50% of their parents? How can we as playworkers reconnect children with nature through freely-chosen play?

Find out how and why children

• became interested in growing, cooking and eating healthy food outdoors

• loved using a shaving horse (and how to make one)

• grew their own butterflies

• decided to treasure instead of destroy rare stag beetle grubs

And how to put your play project on the map so that other organisations make more use of what you do.
1 hour 11:45 – 12:45 ‘Tell me More’
7.30managing uncertainty in children’s play provision: risk- benefit assessmentBen TawilUncertainty and disequilibrium, flexibility and unpredictability are an intrinsic part of playing and as such players will experience risk (the likelihood of some negative outcome), risk management is often cited as negatively influencing children’s play and legislation cited as an excuse.

Can Play provision meet the requirements of the duty of care and its correspondent Health and Safety obligations whilst meeting the child’s disposition to playfully engage with the world?

This workshop will through discussion, fun n games and practical activities consider the relationship between play, risk, uncertainty, childhood and adulteration/intervention. Delegates will be provided with the opportunity to reflect on practice, theory and policy (promise it won't be as boring as it sounds) to develop knowledge and skills to better manage risk or uncertainty in staffed play provision.
2 hours 13:45 – 15:45 ‘Tell me More’
7.31love outdoor playClaire Colvine & Cath PriskThe Love Outdoor Play campaign is calling on everyone to take action to make sure more children can play out more often. This could mean giving time, money or skills to a local play project, or engaging in micro-volunteering opportunities such as helping promote the campaign across social media platforms.

The campaign aims to bring about a culture change so that volunteering to help make your local area a great place to play becomes the norm. But what does this mean in practical terms for play projects up and down the country? What will this proposed army of volunteers contribute in real terms to the quality of play experiences for children and young people?

We will explore the benefits and issues around the mass mobilisation of volunteers for play and give participants an opportunity to feed into the Love Outdoor Play campaign. It will also provide ideas and inspiration on how you can take advantage of the movement and share tips on engaging volunteers.

Whether you’re a playworker, a play service manager or a volunteer professional, this workshop will explore ways you can engage volunteers and encourage more people to Love Outdoor Play!
1 hour 16:00 – 17:00 ‘Tell me More’
TRACK 8: ChildhoodsROOM 7
8.32A new vision for playwork: the issuesRob WhewayA New Vision for Playwork – The Issues

One of two linked sessions - Tuesday “The Issues” and Wednesday “The Solutions”

Revolutionary playwork – where has it gone?

Down with reactionary playwork

A critique of our play heroes

Why despite our best efforts are children’s play opportunities more restricted than they ever were. Why have we failed

Why do we allow our focus to be on other agendas about children being a nuisance or needing therapy rather than on “play”

Why do our play heroes allow themselves to be trapped into analyses which accept the status quo?
1 hour 15 minutes 10:00 – 11:15 ‘Tell me More’
8.33the Notting Hill summer playgroup and the legacy for todaySimon RixThe Notting Hill Summer Project of 1967 covered 3/8 of a square mile of what was then an extremely poor neighbourhood, attracted 200 hundred volunteers who paid to participate and led to one of the largest expansions of play provision in one area ever known.

Here, play provision became a popular movement with an undercurrent of radical political and theoretical drivers, and characters whose life's work has been the ludic project.

In an era of reduction in provision and an emphasis on voluntary action by the Government, what can we learn from the project’s community action approach? How did play become a political issue worth organising over and fighting for in this community?

What were the longer outcomes of the project for children?

What did Pink Floyd and the Rolling Stones have to do with it?
2 hour 11:45 – 13:45 ‘Tell me More’
8.34exploring the professionalism of the playworkerChris Martin"A culture that does not value children’s play will not value a group of people who take this as their core work. If they wish their work to be valued, their priority is to change this culture. This requires reinventing playwork in order to prioritise it acting as an agent of cultural change, and it will diminish in relevance until it successfully does so". Chris Martin, 2012

In the current climate of austerity and with the rise of ‘new managerialism’, which emphasises an employer-driven consumerist focus which foregrounds technical means to achieve ‘instrumental’ outputs, how can playworkers develop a new and empowering professionalism to counter this?
This workshop will explore how playworkers in the widest sense of the word can work together to develop a new model through collective organising and action, and how this can act as an agent of cultural change.
1 hour 14:00 – 15:00 ‘Tell me More’
8.35working alongside volunteers to develop play opportunitiesClaire Hein & Kate Hellard• What does ‘community’ mean to you?

• Why is this question important when thinking about children, young people and play?

• Why are volunteers important to children and young people?

• How can volunteers support play in a local area?

• How can you, as a professional support their practice?

This workshop will address these key questions, plus others raised by you.

It will draw heavily on Wansdyke Play Association’s volunteer mentoring booklet ‘Communities doing it for themselves!’ which provides play development workers/volunteer co-ordinators/playworkers with a tool for guiding individuals and groups through the process of establishing informal play opportunities supported by volunteers in their local community.
1 hour 30 minutes15:30 – 17:00 ‘Tell me More’
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