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The 8 Playwork Principles - Explained

Rachel Cox - Last Update: 22 Jul 2021

Contents

An introduction to Playwork Principles

What are the 8 Playwork Principles?

Playwork Principles in Childcare Apprenticeships

How to support play in children and young people

How do apprenticeship Playwork Principles relate to the national occupational standard?

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Rachel Cox

You'll encounter playwork principles in the Level 2 Playwork apprenticeship. But what are the playwork principles and why are they important?

Key points:

  • There are 8 playwork principles, developed by a body of independent, experienced playworkers
  • You will encounter the themes of the playwork principles in the Level 2 Foundation Apprenticeship in Playwork
  • The playwork principles unit (201) is split into two parts. The first focuses on the play itself, and the second on your role in supporting play

An introduction to Playwork Principles

The principles of playwork help you to understand two critical values of playwork practice:

  • The nature and value of play
  • The role you have as the playworker in supporting play for children and young people

It's a mandatory part of the apprenticeship and the very first unit on the course.

The playwork principles will show you how to approach play throughout your career.

Employers are awarded up to £4,000 for each apprentice they recruit*

*The Welsh Government employer incentive promises £4,000 for every apprentice recruited who are between 16-24 years old and up to £2,000 for every apprentice over the age of 25.

If you'd like to know more about the employer incentive scheme, download our flyer, or send us your details and we'll get in touch.

 

What are the 8 Playwork Principles?

According to Play Wales Chwarae Cymru, there are 8 playwork principles.

The playwork principles were created by the Scrutiny Group, a cross-section of experienced playworkers who represent the views held by all Playworkers across the UK.

The play principles describe:

  • What play is
  • Why play is different to other behaviours we associate with young people and childhood
  • How you should approach play and how you can support play as an adult and playworker

The 8 playwork principles were finalised in 2005 and subsequently approved by SkillsActive (the Sectors Skills Council for Playwork).

They're still in use today and encourage every playworker to give children and young people the appropriate space and opportunity to play.

The 8 Playwork Principles

1. All children and young people need to play. The impulse to play is innate. Play is a biological, psychological and social necessity, and is fundamental to the healthy development and well-being of individuals and communities.

2. Play is a process that is freely chosen, personally directed and intrinsically motivated. That is, children and young people determine and control the content and intent of their play, by following their own instincts, ideas and interests, in their own way for their own reasons.

3. The prime focus and essence of playwork is to support and facilitate the play process and this should inform the development of play policy, strategy, training and education.

4. For playworkers, the play process takes precedence and playworkers act as advocates for play when engaging with adult led agendas.

5. The role of the playworker is to support all children and young people in the creation of a space in which they can play.

6. The playworker’s response to children and young people playing is based on a sound up to date knowledge of the play process, and reflective practice.

7. Playworkers recognise their own impact on the play space and also the impact of children and young people’s play on the playworker.

8. Playworkers choose an intervention style that enables children and young people to extend their play. All playworker interventions must balance risk with the developmental benefit and well-being of children.

Play Wales advises that you treat the 8 principles as a philosophical approach, rather than strict rules to follow.

You can download the Playwork Principles poster here.

Playwork Principles in Childcare Apprenticeships

In the Level 2 Playwork apprenticeship, you cover playwork principles in unit 201.

Understanding the nature and value of play

In unit 201.1 of the Level 2 apprenticeship, you will learn about the nature and value of play.

It mirrors aspects of the 8 principles. You'll be asked how you would facilitate them in a caring environment.

You'll be assessed on five topics:

  • Describe the need for children and young people to play
  • Describe how play contributes to children and young people’s development
  • Explain how play is a process that is “freely chosen, personally directed and intrinsically motivated”
  • State the requirements of the UN Convention on the Rights of the Child in relation to play provision
  • Understand that play is freely chosen, personally directed behaviour, and motivated from within.

You'll learn how play aids development from birth to adolescence and get perspective about play for all children and young people.

Regardless of their challenges and barriers, their gender, race, culture, language, sexuality, health, economic or social status and any other individual characteristics, every child should be supported in their play.

This unit also talks about the types of play provision where the principles can be applied, and your duty under the UN convention to champion a child's right to play.

The UN Convention on Rights of the Child recognises "the right of the child to rest and leisure, to engage in play and recreational activities appropriate to the age of the child and to participate freely in cultural life and the arts."

How to support play in children and young people

Under unit 201.2 of the Level 2 Playwork apprenticeship, you'll learn about the role you have as the playworker in supporting play for children and young people.

Just like the previous part of the unit, it pulls the values from the eight principles. There are five assessment topics to revise:

  • Describe the role of the playworker in supporting and facilitating play
  • Describe the role of the playworker as an advocate for play
  • Give three examples of how the playworker can support children and young people to create play spaces
  • Identify the playworker’s impact on the play space
  • Give two examples of how children and young people’s play can affect the playworker

You're taught how to be an advocate for children and young people, to speak on their behalf.

You'll also understand your impact as a playworker, and how important your relationship is with the child or young person in the setting. You are a positive influence, encouraging creativity and experimentation.

The play space itself comes into focus in this part of the unit. You'll discover that a physical, affective, permanent or transient area could support self-directed play Plus, that a play environment may have several spaces.

How do apprenticeship Playwork Principles relate to the national occupational standard?

The principles of playwork relate to the national occupational standard PW34 - Work with children and young people to create play spaces and support freely chosen self-directed play.

You can read the PW34 standard on the Social Care Wales website.

It is also split in two, PW34.1 and PW34.2

Under PW34.1, you must be able to work with children and young people to create a range of play spaces.

  1. Use your observations, and feedback from children and young people, to identify their play needs and wants
  2. Work with children and young people to develop possibilities for play spaces that meet these needs and wants
  3. Support all children and young people to create play spaces appropriate to their individual needs and requirements
  4. Support children and young people to adapt play spaces to provide challenge, stimulation, rest or relaxation
  5. Contribute to, ensuring there is sufficient flexibility, variety and choice of resources to enable children and young people to adapt the play space
  6. Seek advice and support from colleagues throughout this process of creating play spaces

Under PW34.2, you must support children and young people’s freely chosen, self-directed play.

  1. Support all children and young people’s right to play
  2. Observe children and young people involved in play
  3. Respond to play cues appropriately
  4. Support children and young people to explore their play spaces
  5. Support the play process in a way that does not undermine the children and young people’s personal control and involvement
  6. Leave children and young people to determine the content and intent of their play
  7. Choose an intervention style that enables children and young people to extend their play
  8. Take part in play only when invited by children and young people through their play cues
  9. Intervene in children and young people’s play when their or others’ health, safety or welfare requires it
  10. Enable play to end in a way that is appropriate to the children and young people, their level of involvement and the requirements of your organisation

To find out more about the Playwork Level 2 Apprenticeship or chat about Playwork Principles in more detail, please get in touch or download your FREE guide below.