There are in excess of 130,000 children and young people aged 0-19 years living in the Bradford Metropolitan District Area (NHS Bradford and Airedale 2010). A significant percentage of these are likely to enjoy some form of play and/or playwork provision throughout their childhood or adolescence.
Since 2004, Bradford Metropolitan District Council has developed and been in the process of implementing ‘All To Play For’, strategies for children’s play in the Bradford district. Significant progress has been made across the district towards removing barriers to play, increasing and raising the quality of play and playwork provisions and maximising the contribution of play services to the wider local agendas for children, young people, families and communities.
The play and playwork sector has largely been recognised as out of school provision, holiday clubs and open access playschemes, however, children and young people do, and will, play outside of these staffed environments.
Bradford Council has worked with the voluntary, community, private and independent sectors to design, plan, deliver and enhance the quality and accessibility of children and young people’s play experiences within staffed and non-staffed environments and their local communities.
‘All To Play For’ (2008) makes direct reference to supporting the development of play provision through training, advice and guidance. Recommendations no.4 and 36 refer to supporting the quality of childcare and sustainability of play provision respectively.
However, play and playwork training also contributes to a wide range of other recommendations in the Play Strategy, these range from supporting providers with improving the use of grounds for quality outdoor play (no. 5, 6), incorporating access to natural environments for play (no. 8,19), developing inclusive play environments (no. 11, 29, 30), advocating and providing opportunities for risk and challenge within play (no. 20) and embedding children’s and parents participation (no. 30, 37, 39). The Strategy for Play also provides recommendations for how other services (see Appendix 1) can contribute towards the development of quality opportunities for play within the Bradford district.
Play is also mentioned in the ‘Bradford Children and Young People’s Workforce Strategy’ 2009-2012, however, this is within the context of ‘Early Years, Childcare and Play’ and focuses on developing a graduate Early Years Workforce. To underpin the importance of play, a strategy which supports the development of play and playwork training is therefore required.
This strategy aims to provide a strategic approach to workforce development across the play sector and the services that impact on children and young people’s play as a whole. The development of this strategy, with support of the National Sector Skills Council for Playwork ‘SkillsActive’, encompasses and highlights recommendations for workforce development in the form of any of the following: