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What Is Playwork?

Playwork is a profession and playworkers are trained to do their jobs. Playwork has developed from a need to compensate children for the loss of natural play spaces and a reduction in the freedom needed to play. Staffed play settings provide children with access to rich play environments where the adults working understand and support children’s natural play behaviour.

Playwork is about giving children the time, space and independence to play in their own way and on their own terms.

A framework of eight principle statements, known collectively as the Playwork Principles, guide Playworker’s practice and these establish the approach all playworkers should take to providing for children’s play.

What do Playworkers do?

  • Playworkers facilitate inspiring spaces where the conditions are right for freely chosen play to occur and which maximise the play opportunities available to children.
  • Playworkers provide children with access to a wide range of resources with which to extend their play experiences
  • Playworkers support children to construct, dismantle and therefore adapt their own play environments.
  • Playworkers try to avoid adulterating the play process whenever possible and only become involved in play if necessary due to health and safety reasons, or if invited to do so by a child.
  • Playworkers understand the importance of children experiencing challenge in their play and are trained to balance risks with need to protect children from serious injury.
  • Playworkers identify and remove barriers to children’s play
  • Playworkers empower children and therefore support them to raise their self-esteem and build their confidence.
  • Playworkers strive to remember what it was like to be a child and are sympathetic and supportive of children’s play behaviour.

Where do Playworkers work?

Playworkers work in a wide range of settings including adventure playgrounds, open access playschemes, out of school childcare clubs, play centres, peripatetic play projects and hospitals. Playwork often involves working evening and weekends because this is when children have the time to play.

Playwork Principles

These principles establish the professional and ethical framework for Playwork and as such must be regarded as a whole. They describe what is unique about play and Playwork, and provide the Playwork perspective for working with children and young people. They are based on the recognition that children and young people’s capacity for positive development will be enhanced if given access to the broadest range of environments and play opportunities.

  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 intervention must balance risk with the developmental benefit and well being of children.

Getting Involved in Playwork

There are a number of ways of getting involved in Playwork in Wrexham…

Playwork Jobs

To find out more about available playwork related jobs in Wrexham you can search on our vacancies page or alternatively contact the WCBC Play Development Team.


A great way of starting to get involved in Playwork is to volunteer in a local staffed play setting. By becoming a volunteer you can gain valuable experience, develop your personal and playwork skills and access free playwork training. It is also a great opportunity to try something different, challenge yourself and of course have fun, plus you will be helping to uphold children’s right to play.

To find out more about becoming a volunteer playworker in Wrexham contact the WCBC Play Development Team.

Qualifications and Training

There are a number of training routes for people interested in gaining playwork qualifications and becoming involved in playwork. Playwork Qualifications available in the North East of Wales range from introductory courses to degree level qualifications.

As a quick guide the type of qualification you want will depend on the type of work you would like to be involved in:

  • Introductory courses – we recommend that anyone thinking of getting involved in playwork attends an introductory course first just so they know what they’re letting themselves in for!
  • Level 2 qualifications are for people who will be working under supervision
  • Level 3 qualifications are for people who will be working on their own initiative,
  • Level 4 and Degree level qualifications are for managers of large staff teams, Development workers

For more information about Playwork qualifications available in Wrexham visit our Playwork Qualifications page. Alternatively all available playwork training courses are also advertised through Wrexham’s Family Information Service.

Another good source for information about Playwork and available jobs is the Playwork Wales website: www.playwales.org.uk (External Link)

Playwork Qualifications

The following organisations provide playwork qualifications in the North East of Wales. Please click on the training provider you are interested in:

Wrexham’s Family Information Service is another good source of information about available playwork qualifications and play related training.

WCBC Play Development Team

For more information about any of the training courses which the WCBC Play Development Team delivers please contact a member of the team. To find out more about the other types of play related training that we also provide visit our Play Training page.

P3 Level 2

Playwork Wales (the national centre for Playwork Education and Training) has recently developed a new suite of qualifications known as “Playwork Principles into Practice” or “P3”. The courses consider play from a biological, social and psychological perspective. They explore the significance of children's play in human evolution and how playworkers might effectively facilitate the play process. The syllabus is centred on the child at play and addresses some of the tensions that arise between adult agendas and the child's drive to play.

The qualifications are designed to allow workers to access the training in a progressive, incremental way. Each level of the course comprises of three stages: the award, certificate and diploma and each stage builds on the foundations of the previous one. The courses combine tutor led theory, practical Playwork, observations and reflection time and aim to ensure playworkers can put what they have learnt into practice before moving onto the next stage of the qualification.

The P3 level two qualifications are nationally accredited and meet the 2008 Care and Social Services Inspectorate Wales (CSSIW) requirements for playworkers.

The WCBC Play Development Team includes qualified P3 trainers and assessors, which enables us to deliver these qualifications at low cost to workers across Wrexham.

Clybiau Plant Cymru Kids Clubs

Clybiau Plant Cymru Kids Clubs provide introductory courses to play and playwork as well as CACHE level 2 and 3 qualifications in Playwork. They also provide training in related topics including child protection, food hygiene and business planning. The training that CPCKC can provide is subject to available funding.

To find out more about the course which Clybiau Plant Cymru Kids Clubs visit www.clybiauplantcymru.org

Further Education Colleges

Deeside College currently provides NVQ Level 2 and 3 qualifications in Playwork. For more information visit http://www.deeside.ac.uk

Yale College does not currently provide any specific playwork qualifications however some of their related subjects do include playwork modules. The Children's Care Learning and Development NVQ covers the 0-16 age range and has optional units directly linked to Playwork. For more information visit: http://www.yale-wrexham.co.uk

Glyndŵr University

Glyndŵr University currently offer the only Playwork Degree in Wales. The course has been developed and is under continuous review by experts in the field, national organisations and employers, ensuring that the learning experience and course content both reflects current policy and contemporary research so graduates will have the skills, knowledge and understanding to contribute effectively to this rapidly developing sector.

The course will develop an understanding of the importance of play for a child’s development featuring assessing and developing the play environment, understanding provisions in the community, managing a play setting and sociological and psychological perspectives and their influence on play theory and playwork practice. You will develop the skills and knowledge to be able to reflect on children’s play and playwork provision as well as learn from international perspectives on provision for children’s play. You will also undertake periods of professional practice throughout the course.

Students graduating from this programme will be able to follow careers in face to face playwork, play development, playwork training and education, play project management as well as in associated professions such as youth work, community work and childcare.

For more details go to http://www.glyndwr.ac.uk.

Play Training

"No matter how experienced we are, there is always the opportunity to learn new things"

Play Wales, 2009.

The WCBC Play Development Team offers a range of full day training sessions focussing on specific areas of play and playwork. For further details, including costs, or to discuss the development of other bespoke play related training sessions please contact the WCBC Play Development Team.

Please click on the training session of your choice:

Introduction to Play and Playwork

This introductory course for play and playwork is designed to give learners the opportunity to explore their own memories about how they, themselves used to play and to consider how things may have changed for children today. By blending together theoretical and practical examples it will offer those attending a chance to develop their own knowledge of what play is and to reflect on the importance of play in children’s lives. The course will also look at how our society is increasingly depriving children of play and the role of playworkers in compensating children for the loss of naturally occurring play opportunities.

Challenging the Cotton Wool Culture

– balancing risk and safety in play

This course looks at the perception of Health and Safety being the route cause of today’s ‘cotton wool’ culture where children are being denied access to adventurous play experiences. Exploring the many myths that are associated with health and safety requirements concerning children, children’s play and the blame culture, this course considers the importance of properly managed risk in children’s play. The course calls for and explores the benefits of managing and balancing the risks with the play value of different play opportunities and how to develop risk assessment procedures that support this.

The WCBC Play Development Team also offers Basic Child Protection and First Aid training, both of which are valid for up to a maximum period of three years. The Wrexham Family Information Service (FIS), based in Wrexham Library, also offers subsidised training for people who work with children.