A play strategy for Scotland’s children

Aileen CampbellTo make our country the best place to grow up we must get it right in the early years.

As Children’s Minister I’m committed to supporting our children and families so they get the best start in life and go on to thrive and flourish.

And a central part of getting it right in the early years is play.  Although clearly (and rightly) centred on fun, play is also hugely important to a child’s development and key to their physical, cognitive and social development. Here I speak from experience, being the mother of a wee boy myself. 

Play is also pivotal to how children learn and a fundamental part of their quality of life. This being enshrined in Article 31 of the UN Convention on the Rights of the Child.

This understanding of the crucial importance of play is why we’re developing Scotland’s first national play strategy. This will set out our vision for play and the action we’ll take to achieve it – with a key aim being embedding play within children’s services through the forthcoming Children and Young People’s Bill. We’ll be consulting with key partners across the play sector on this before the end of the year with the eventual strategy due for publication in 2013. 

The strategy will bring together and build upon the many things we’re already taking forward in this area. We support play at a national level in a variety of ways. For example, we’re increasing funding to £1 million a year for our PlayTalkRead campaign to help parents give their children the best start in life through spending more time playing, taking and reading with them. While our £4 million Go Play fund is also offering more chances for children aged five to 13 to participate in free play.  

Elsewhere, the £3 million allocated (over the next three years) to the Go2Play fund will help develop more play spaces across local communities.

We share the play sector’s vision to see the value of play recognised throughout society and to raise awareness of the benefits it brings.

I look forward to working with those across the sector to develop this important strategy.

Together we’ll devise a vision which will drive the future of play for generations of children to come. 

Aileen Campbell
Minister for Children and Young People

Have your say

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  • http://truckdrivertraining.net.au/ Tony

    About a play strategy for Scotland's children whatever information demonstrated here seems to me informative! For educative development their approaches are highly admirable from my consideration. Thanks.

  • Penny Anderson

    Play is heavily supported in the curriculum for all in out of school care projects where staff are qualified to national levels to support the play agenda. The strategy should illustrate where good practice is already occurring in the out of school services and look to support the good work through funding and resources.

  • http://www.rain-shine.co.uk Laura

    A very exciting prospect for 2013 for all of Scotland's children. Like Karin above, I personally would like to see an emphasis on getting children OUTDOORS more – as a mother and owner of a company who supply outdoor waterproof clothing to nurseries/schools, it saddens me the hours children spend outside exploring/enjoying our fantastic scenery.

  • http://www.licketyspit.com Virginia Radcliffe

    We warmly welcome this exciting initiative and we hope Scottish Government will want to exploit the enormous potential for the Arts to inspire and nurture imaginative play among children and among families.

    Licketyspit has had an unprecedented opportunity this year to work closely with nearly 800 children, together with their teachers and families in four areas of Scotland, on our participative theatre project, which is built around an immersive theatre piece called LicketyLeap – so called because children literally ‘leap’ into the story. We have been able for the first time to demonstrate the powerful impact an encounter with the arts can have on early years children with increases in confidence, social skills, resilience and problem solving skills observed by teachers weeks and months after the experience.
    Virginia Radcliffe – Artistic Director/CEO Licketyspit

  • http://www.licketyspit.com Virginia Radcliffe

    This is a very encouraging and exciting initiative. I hope Scottish Government will want to look very seriously at theatre and drama as a very effective way to inspire and nurture children’s capacity to play, with each other and with their families. There is an affinity between actors and children because ‘play’ is arguably the ‘work’ of both. As a specialist early years theatre company, in the last ten years Licketyspit has been exploring this connection. We knew that the experience of our theatre shows was entering the culture of our audiences as children would take ownership of our material – re-playing it, re-inventing it and sharing it. In the last year, funding from the Inspiring Scotland Early Years Early Action Fund enabled Licketyspit to deliver our participative theatre project, LicketyLeap to almost 800 children and 707 parents/carers in four areas of Scotland . We have been working with some of Scotland’s most vulnerable children & families with amazing results. Teachers and families are all asking us for more drama because they can see what an amazing impact this experience has had, especially on usually inhibited and socially isolated children. Licketyspit is developing creative play outreach in relation to LicketyLeap and we are keen to hear from like-minded artists from other art forms. Virginia Radcliffe, Artistic Director/CEO Licketyspit

  • Alan Rees

    This is very good news. However, although a first for a Scotrish Government and to be applauded as such when it appears, it is not the fisrt Play Strategy for Scotland to be produced. As far back as 1996 a consultative document 'A Play Strategy for Scotland' was drawn up by the National Centre for Play the forerunner for Play Scotland which was headed by Nancy Ovens. This was followed in 1998 by 'A Play Strategy for Scotland: Implementation'. Earlier in 1995, the Association of Directors of Recreation, Leisure and Tourism had publshed a report 'Childrens Play in Scotland – Towards a National Strategy'.So it's been a long journey!
    The Minister should also have a look at the 'Play Agenda' for the Scottish Parliament' issued by Play Scotland in 1999. It was of course addressed to then first Scottish Execuitve in its early years but the current government shoukd have a look at it.

  • http://www.oneredelephant.co.uk Tracy Duncan

    This is great news! As a free lance storyteller/puppetier and balloon modeller offering a range of workshops with fun at their heart and education in disguise – It is wonderful to think that my brand of creativity and play can be accessed by families regardless of their income! I do so much voluntary work in this field which is great and I view it as promo work but I have mouths to feed my family too – no-one haggles in Tesco or expects their shopping list for free and yet creative opportunity is food and water when tackling mental health and low self esteem etc. I work with children with additional support needs also and find this a very rewarding way of working which relies on natural sensitivity (an undervalued quality.) This is a brilliant initiative and Scotland's families will feel the benefit! We need to talk openly with regards to the challenges faced in life and the impact on families. Giving our kinds language and opportunity for creative expression will colour our experiences with them. We are all equal and soon our children's access to opportunity will be too. Happy Elephant in East Lothian today knowing that my skills are valued nationally and more children will have the opportunity to play with this elephant in 2013! Well done!

  • Thomas Lynch

    Well done to Aileen and her team, it's so obvious but has been missed in the past, with the investment we've seen in the playparks around Edinburgh it's clear the message is getting through that play is essential to having strong fun filled relationships with kids. Well done, all, looking forward to helping this develop. Thomas.

  • Eleanor Campbell

    Excellent a National Strategy will be of great benfit to those of us working at a local level to deliver indoor and outdoor play opportunities.

  • Aileen Campbell

    We want the play strategy to be as inclusive as possible, and for this reason we’ve established a working group whose members cover issues such as disability and creative arts. We have also created a much wider reference group to ensure all comments relating to these areas, and indeed others more broadly relating to all aspects of play, are taken into account in developing the strategy.

    Aileen Campbell, Minister for Children and Young People

  • http://www.foresteducation.org.uk Penny Martin

    Great news that play is being recognised nationally. Let's make sure all children can access outdoor play in natural spaces and remember that children of all ages (not just early years) like to play and need free play opportunities.

  • http://www.eastlothianforestschool.com karin

    I hope we get outdoor play spaces into the agenda as well. I too am afn outdoor environmental/arts and forest school provider

  • tracychristie

    I'd be interested to link with any individuals concerned with provision of asn play / recreation facilities in Scotland. I have found a few excellent centres for children, young people and their families in England. But there seems to be an absence of similar indoor and outdoor centres in Scotland. In addition to fun and exercise, such centres perform a valuable setting for friendship and social opportunities. These centres also offer important links for the whole family and parental support networks, especially where there is a dearth of short break provision.

  • Margaret McLelland

    This is excellent news. It is crucial that play and its holistic benefits are promoted, published and understood by everyone. I agree with Rhona (comment above) that the arts, cultural and creativity aspects of Article 31 should be encompassed within this.

  • Anon

    Delighted to hear this long overdue news! Any National Play Strategy needs to be fully inclusive and ensure the needs of disabled children and young people are embedded thorughout all area's of the strategy. Great news!

  • https://www.facebook.com/liz.cairns.92 Liz Cairns

    As a provider of creative arts and play based workshops for children aged 1 – 11 years , I too will be keen to see how creativity and play factor into this discussion. I cannot so much as get a local authority or early years team member to speak to me in this part of the country to see how we can work in partnership

    • http://www.starcatchers.org.uk Rhona Matheson

      Hi Liz, I would be interested in talking to you about the work you're doing as it may connect to some of the work we deliver with Starcatchers. My contact details are on our website – http://www.starcatchers.org.uk

  • irene hogg

    this is fantastic new this is the way foward for scotlands children

  • http://Www.starctchers.org.uk Rhona Matheson

    Great news – keen to see where creativity and the arts factor in to this discussion too.