The Conference Tracks are here! Some brand new trains of thought, and some old favourites filled with new ideas.
Whilst there is the playworkers’ understanding of play -‘freely chosen, personally directed, intrinsically motivated’ - the way this is understood and interpreted can vary depending on the context from which you are looking. This is a set of very different and sometimes challenging approaches to thinking about play.
What would the National Playwork Conference be without a track on Playwork Theory?! But rather than going down the conventional route of play types, play cycle, loose parts, compound flexibility, observation, and reflection this year we are taking a bit of a sideways jump to look at Playwork Theory through emerging research and practice.
I have been to so many conferences and gone to sessions which sounded really interesting and informative only to discover that the something exciting content was buried in the presenters telling you just how wonderful and awesome they and their work is so I decided the what really needs to be shared at conferences is the opportunity for people to talk openly and honestly about their work without having to frame it as something else.
You may have noticed that inclusion, equality and safeguarding are not included in the Playwork Principles. The fact that they are not included does not mean they are not important; they are not included in the principles because there is legislation that ensures they are a part of our work. Whilst we have often had sessions on equality and inclusion here at Conference, this is the first time we are including safeguarding because the welfare of children is paramount.
A little bit of play time for yourself, but I didn’t want to let you get away with an easy ride, so this year these sessions with a more practical focus will still be talking about you need to be doing as a Playworker.
Playwork is the profession that exists to support the need and rights of a child to play. We must remember this and we must learn more
When you say you are a Playworker and you work with children, the image that frequently appears in our listener’s minds is small children, children still in the primary education age range, and the realisation that children are children all the way to 18 becomes a shock. Many staff feel ill-equipped to work with this age group
The ongoing thinking about Play and Playwork doesn’t just happen inside academic institutions and although a lot of really good stuff has emerged from recent Masters and Ph.D. studies, there is also a great deal of research that comes from careful and critical analysis of work-based practices.
Our modern understanding of the history of Playwork practice is that it emerged through the Adventure Playground movement. However, the great surge in the numbers of people employed in the Playwork sector happened as part of the out of school childcare initiative, and there are more people employed in after-school provision, holiday club provision, prisons, hospitals etc than there are in Adventure Playgrounds and I know there is a lot that can be learned from what they do