Getting serious about play

The first thing I heard on the radio this morning was the announcement that 30 new adventure play grounds were to be created. I instantly thought of an old friend, currently languishing as a OFSTED inspector, who really has to be part of this. My second thought was something like …”Hmm, they are going to need lots of trained play-workers again” 🙂

Comment is free: Getting serious about play
It should fund improvements in every local authority, alongside the creation of 30 new staffed adventure playgrounds, innovative approaches in 30 “pathfinder” areas, and high quality training for 4,000 playworkers.

I learned my first really valuable lessons about informal learning long ago as a play worker. We didn’t ever get an adventure playground, we just had the basement of an old library and a big playing field. It was great!

We did all sorts: art activities; cooking; helped with health issues and personal problems; got tied to trees and had buckets of water thrown over us. We all learned to play New Games where “nobody wins, nobody looses and everyone has fun”. We borrowed circus equipment and then had to chase people on unicycles all round the estate. Who knew they’d find them so easy to ride? We painted up old band stands, helped organise free Rock in the Park concerts. We went on coach trips to May Day Play Days in far flung places, like Skelmersdale. Played with giant earth balls and took the kids to A&E when the inevitable sometimes happened. I never worked so hard, or so long and it was all so real, vibrant and filled with learning.

Now lots of new people are going to learn play working skills. I’m not sure anyone will give them as much freedom or let them take the kinds of risk that we did, but still, I might be interested in getting involved the training.

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