Meynell Plays Ltd.
Meynell Plays Ltd.

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Track 5 – Learning from parallel sectors

Playwork is not the only fish in the childhood sea! Whilst we believe that the special ‘way of being’ that is the playworker is very important there are other contexts of working with children that have attributes the playwork field could learn from. These sessions are presented by people who come from both playwork and the other place.

Room 5
Nature Play: Could Playworkers benefit from Forest School training?Children and young people love being outdoors, however Natural England’s research shows that fewer than 25% of children use their local “patch of nature” compared to over 50% of their parents. These nature play opportunities can be supported by Forest School and Playwork practitioners. Are there any similarities between how they provide these opportunities and could Playwork practitioners benefit from Forest School training?

This workshop will be interactive with discussions about what is Forest School and Playwork?

As well as activities and examples of nature play from Denmark and Torbay.
Level: Getting started / Moving On Length: 1 hr /

Time: 12:15 - 13:15
Play in schools across the worldI’m on a mission – I want primary schools in England to be amazing places to play. I’ve been to look at other countries to see what they do, I looked in Germany, Sweden, and Denmark, I looked in the USA and in New Zealand. Want to know what I found out? Is outstanding, risky, dirty, free play really possible in our outcome and safety obsessed schools system? (By-the-way the answer is yes! As I will show you British schools with lunchtime fire club, water play and tree climbing).

During my period as the only local government school improvement adviser with a role of school improvement through play, I gradually developed a systematic way of working with schools that enabled them to overcome their many fears and inabilities in providing sustainable high quality play experiences for their children. The OPAL programme was tested in around 75 schools and independently evaluated for quality and effectiveness by two universities. I now run a not-for-profit organisation (OPAL) dedicated to bringing proper; freely chosen, intrinsically motivated self-directed play to primary schools – not just for a short term play project but to change the school’s attitude to play and make a lasting and permanent change. It doesn’t work every time but when it does work it is as good as anything I have seen on my travels.
Level: Getting started / Length: 1 hr / Time: 13:30 - 14:30
What can playworkers learn from youth work and how can we benefit from it?Why do youth workers get paid more than playworkers and how come they’re more organised? Is youth work really just about playing table tennis and informal education while playworkers hold the lonely (but freely chosen) moral high ground?

This workshop will (briefly) look at some of the history behind youth work and playwork, and examine some of the political wins that have contributed to youth work being embedded in local authority structures – or at least more embedded than playwork.

On a more practical note, it will look at how youth workers, while offering open access provision and openly admitting educational tendencies, empower and support young people and their rights – including Article 12, and subversively, Article 31 – and what we can learn from them.

We will explore via discussion how playworkers can learn from youth workers without compromising the playwork principles both on a practical level and as a profession.
Level: Getting started / Moving On / Length: 1 hr /

Time: 14:45 - 15:45
Playing with Trauma? A look at therapeutic play in playworkThe NSPCC estimates over 50 thousand children are at risk of abuse. Through my play therapy work I have come to realise countless more have experienced traumatic events of varying intensity such as severe loss, involvement in the care system, divorce, parental substance misuse and many more. All these children will have suffered a physiological injury of some form.

These children will be coming to our sessions and, as people that provide a space for them to play and be themselves, an adult that cares about their agenda and are willing to validate their worlds our influence can be massive.

Though our role as ‘playworker’ is not to act as ‘amateur psychotherapist’ in this session I will be sharing ideas and from the therapy world, and as an adoptive Dad, which can greatly benefit playwork practise and help cater play for those children in our midst that are suffering psychologically
Level: Getting started / Length: 1 hr / Time: 16:00 - 17:00
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