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Track 7 – Thinking about playwork

The way we think about and practice our playwork is constantly changing and evolving. It is an ongoing conversation trying to identify exactly what playwork is. The sessions in this track will probably raise more questions than they answer, but what they will do is provide a space to expand our thinking

Room 7
Passion, politics and policy for playPlaywork needs resources and, if we recognise the right of all children to play, these must come from public funds. This means we need a policy framework that favours investing in playwork and play provision.

This workshop will explore how playworkers can be effective advocates for play policy: drawing on our unique perspective to channel our passion for play into the political process and persuade policy-makers to realise how important it is that they make those resources available.

This aspect of the Playwork Principles has never been more important as, in spite of the United Nations issuing a General Comment that spells out governments’ duty to maintain it, children’s play provision continues to be seen as an easy target for cuts.
Level: Moving On / 1 hr 30 mins / Time: 10:00 – 11:30
Misunderstanding play and how playwork might not be helpingIn relation to play and playwork, we have the theories and then we have the practices! Are the theories the right ones? Are the practices the right ones? Do we really understand play? Has the quality of children’s play opportunities and children’s right to play freely improved since the advent of national qualifications, degrees in play and playwork and a ‘workforce’ of qualified playwork staff? Does the nation better understand play? Should there be, or is there another way? What works and what doesn’t?
Level: Give me more! Length: 1 hr 30 mins / Time: 11:45 - 13:15
Working across the boardSimon Rix, Ellen Delaney, Sharon DunbarWhy is the Play service in Solihull attracting new investment and expanding?

Meriden Adventure Playground has become regarded in the neighbourhood as “More than just an adventure playground” and has gained the status of a “community hub”, which is not only sustaining the service against austerity, but bringing in new interest and money.

How has this transition of perception happened? What are the relative benefits to the children, community and organisation? Is this a replicable model?

Meriden Playworkers will take you through what we have done, and ask you to think about your service, and if you can use similar tactics.
Level: Moving On / Length: 1 hr 30 mins / Time: 13:45 - 15:15
Playwork And The Razor’s EdgeThis session explores the cutting edge of playwork practice, and the trials and joys to be found there.

The art of playwork rests in a gossamer-fine balance at all times.

It is a balance predicated on responses that allow for huge possibilities, and the maximum level of enjoyment and self expression for the children in the play space. In each moment the playworker needs to make decisions that will either shut down opportunities for discovery or afford for the creation of new worlds.

In responding to children in the play space, we are required to hold a perspective that takes in conventional notions of how the world operates and, when required, create the possibilities for children to move beyond them. The ethics that inform this movement are borne of a desire for the children in the playground to be the fullest and happiest they can possibly be both in the present moment and in their future lives.

Working in such a manner can easily be misunderstood and misinterpreted by other adults, particularly those that assume the adult role is to ‘prepare children for the real world,’ or that do not understand that children’s playful realities are... not real.

This workshop explores playwork at the edge of a number of worlds, including:

The perspective of the child and the perspective of the adult

The real and the unreal

Notions of what is ‘acceptable’ and ‘unacceptable’ in children’s cultures

Notions of wholesomeness and dysfunction in children’s play: the child as ‘innocent’ and the child ‘to be saved’

Authority and it’s disruption: the concept of The Duty of Recalcitrance

This promises to be a lively and amusing hour and a half full of anecdote, stories and vignettes from both facilitator and participants.
Level: Moving On / Give me more! Length: 1 hr 30 mins /

Time: 15:30 - 17:00
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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