Play & Playwork: Research and Practice
Monday 10 July 2017
Leeds Beckett University
Leeds Beckett University and Leeds City Council Children’s Services are delighted to present their inaugural collaborative conference, Play & Playwork: research and practice 2017. The conference, aimed at all those with an interest in children and their play, features an array of presentations and workshops delivered by leading practitioners and researchers from across the UK and beyond. Keynote speakers include the internationally renowned writer, researcher and academic, Dr Jaipaul Roopnarine, professor of Human Development at Syracuse University, USA, and Leeds Beckett University’s very own professor of Playwork, Dr Fraser Brown. Continuing the local theme, Steve Walker, Director of Children’s Services, will provide an overview of Leeds’ ongoing commitment to its proud Child Friendly City status.
|Dr. Jaipaul L. Roopnarine is a Pearl Falk Professor of Human Development at Syracuse University, and an Adjunct Professor of the University of the West Indies-Family Development Centre of Trinidad and Tobago.|
||Professor Fraser Brown is Professor of Playwork at Leeds Beckett University.|
Programme and Workshop Summary
|Meeting Children's Play needs||
|Places & Spaces for Childhoods||
“Well, we learn more playing out now, because we couldn’t learn anything when we had just sticks and stones, that we weren’t allowed to play with!” (Year six child, School A, 2016)
Play interventions are often used in primary schools for various reasons to varying effect. Some of those achieving significant success take a playwork approach to working with children and their play. Using simulations of playing, examples from practice, literature and research in to playwork and play in schools, this workshop will consider how play might be used in the school environment, and how that can influence the whole school community.
This presentation introduces research into the relationship between children and mobile digital technology in outdoor play, based on an adventure playground. It is part of a PhD project that examines how combinations of environment and mobile technology assemble to afford playful moments in older children’s lives (10-15 years), and considers how these ‘matter’.
De-centring the playing child and reconstructing them in a complex assemblage presents an alternative perspective to biosocial dualisms - the being/becoming debate. It examines if and how modern, networked childhoods are still full of play and wonder, and make the case that this new normal is no less important than any other childhood. It argues that children still co-create their worlds through their everyday lived experiences, navigating through time and place – which may be digital as well as geographical - as they exercise agency and explore meaning and identity.
The presentation includes work carried out as part of an MA on Play and Playwork, and introduces the initial results of PhD fieldwork. An ethnographic approach was used throughout which considered children as co-creators of knowledge. Research was built around a strong core of participant observation, augmented with interviews and guided by the Playwork Principles.
Outdoor activity benefits children, adults and communities. The Playing Out movement helps children play freely outside their front door through organised closures of residential streets. The workshop will focus on the outcomes from the movement including benefits and barriers to take-up, and will look at how the design of new build streets can encourage children’s activity.
Theme: Meeting Children’s Play Needs
This workshop will have two parts. Following introduction, the first part will consist of a life story play to demonstrate my approach to life story therapy. A light hearted fun-based approach is used to illustrate the significance of understanding birth family context to enabling a child aged 13 to come to terms with damaging life experiences that had led to four suicide attempts. I shall request participation from up to five people to take part in a scripted play. This will be followed by discussion about the impact of this intervention.
The second part of the workshop will focus on storytelling. In triads, delegates will be invited to try out storytelling, using toys or pictures. These will be chosen to represent six parts to the story (1) hero, (2) friend; (3) journey, (4) problem, (5) how its resolved; (6) how the story turns out. One or two of the stories may be shared. It will conclude with discussion on arising themes.
Theme: Places and spaces for childhood
This session will consider the possibility of playful and playfull spaces, before going on to consider the practical steps that can be taken to achieve them. In the first part of the session, John will challenge some of the commonplace assumptions about play and space that are widely held and often used to design urban spaces and shape urban behaviour. In the second part of the session, we will focus on designing low/no cost interventions to make our everyday environments more playful and playfull.
Theme: Places & Spaces for Childhood
Following the interest at the Child in the City Conference in 2016, Play Scotland and NHS Health Scotland have designed a workshop to show participants how the Place Standard Tool works and how it can be used in all communities.
The Place Standard Tool is a good practice resource that has been designed to support communities, the public and private sectors, and other organisations to work better together to deliver high quality places that meet the needs of the local community.
The Place Standard has been developed by the Scottish Government, NHS Health Scotland and Architecture and Design Scotland to evaluate the quality of places.
The Place Standard tool encourages people, including children and young people, to work together to discuss places in a meaningful way. It allows places to be assessed consistently and compared over time. Unlike many other design assessments, the place standard tool considers people and the social life of a place to be just as important as its built assets. The Tool includes Play and Recreation as part of the assessment, which links strongly with the exciting new Play Map resource developed by Play Scotland.
This interactive workshop will show attendees how the resource works through practical application using a community in Leeds as a case study.
Employability in higher education is ‘providing the opportunities to develop knowledge, skills, experiences, behaviours, attributes, achievements and attitudes to enable graduates to make successful transitions and contributions’ (Higher Education Academy, 2015). Lesli will describe the rationale for, the methods used and the outcomes of the research she recently undertook to explore employers’ perspectives of playwork graduate employability.
Deep in the woods you discover a secret hideaway. Someone or something has been sleeping there. At the foot of an old sleeping bag is tattered diary. You wonder whether or not you should read it…
Drawing upon our creative writing project where 25 primary school pupils from lower socio-economic backgrounds took part in creative writing workshops over a two-week period, this practical workshop will give you first-hand experience of co-constructing an imaginary world. By involving you in dramatic enquiry, we will explore how drama can capture the imagination and provide a real purpose for writing. At a time when education is becoming more formal, this workshop will show you how playful learning through drama can lead to more engaged and motivated thinking and learning opportunities.
Theme – Research
In 2012, Wales became the first country in the world to legislate for children’s play when the Welsh Government introduced their Play Sufficiency Duty. The central aim of this statutory duty is to create “an environment where children can freely play” and to “make communities more play friendly”. It places a statutory duty on all Welsh local authorities to assess and secure sufficient play opportunities for children in their areas. In 2013, Mike and Ben led on the completion of Wrexham’s first play sufficiency assessment, pioneering an approach based on children’s satisfaction with their time and space for play and their active involvement in researching these opportunities. This principled approach has continued through to Wrexham’s second play sufficiency assessment in 2016 and beyond.
This presentation will provide an overview of Wrexham’s unique approach to completing their play sufficiency assessments including the theoretical basis, the research tools developed, some of the key findings and subsequent priorities identified. In doing so it will introduce the concept of affordances (Gibson 1986), ecological systems theory (Bronfenbrenner, 1979, and Lester and Russell, 2008) and fields of action (Kytta, 2003) to create a framework for analyzing conditions for playing wherever children may be.
Theme: Meeting children’s play needs
“(The Play Sufficiency Duty) requires adults to begin to pay more careful attention to the multiple ways in which adults and children are connected, directly and remotely in co-creating conditions for playing” Lester & Russell, 2013
In the course of completing Wrexham’s second play sufficiency assessment, the local authority’s Play Development Team recorded conversations with children who either rated particularly high or low satisfaction with their opportunities for playing. This workshop will provide participants with the opportunity to listen carefully to some of those voices and then think and talk about the implications for adults and our collective responsibilities towards children and their play. In doing so the workshop will share research from Wrexham’s latest play sufficiency assessment, enable participants to pay closer attention to what children say about their time and space for playing and, as a consequence, further develop people’s understanding of play sufficiency, the scope of the work involved and its far reaching potential.
Research Theme: Playworking
The practice of playwork began in the adventure playgrounds set up in the UK just after the Second World War. This workshop presents an overview of the historical development of adventure playgrounds and playwork practice, as described in rare and neglected literature written by the adventure playground pioneers.
Over the last three years, interest in childhood, children's play and independence has increased in the USA. Regular interviews with 15 participants has meant that the lives of playful advocates has been well documented over a three year period, generating rich data that are more like beautiful stories. This workshop explores the narrative of a handful of these research participants and their journeys into play.
This University of Gloucestershire internally-funded research project worked with adventure playgrounds in Bristol and Gloucester to gather memories of those involved (as children, staff, families and communities) over their history, in order to explore their value. It drew on concepts from post-qualitative research methodologies, memory studies, geography, philosophy and policy studies. There is plenty of evidence showing the benefits of play for children, but less showing the benefits of play provision. What does exist tends to show the instrumental value of adventure playgrounds and playwork in terms of its capacity to address social policy concerns such as reducing physical inactivity and obesity, crime reduction, or community cohesion. These are important, and at the same time the desire to show measurable benefits in this way obscures other ways of expressing value. The creative methods we used looked to show how much these spaces mattered to those involved.
The workshop will show the 18-minute film produced by the project, followed by a facilitated discussion looking both at ways of articulating the value of playwork/adventure playgrounds, and the data gathering and analysis methods used.
Playwork in prisons is an emerging field and there has been limited, in-depth research so far. This presentation will outline the aims of the research, the methodological decisions taken so far and some of the challenges of researching in such a unique setting.
Dr. Jaipaul L. Roopnarine is a Pearl Falk Professor of Human Development at Syracuse University, and an Adjunct Professor of The University of the West Indies-Family Development Centre of Trinidad and Tobago. He has thirty-five years of experience conducting observational and survey studies around the world on father involvement and childhood development (e.g. India, Malaysia, Taiwan, Brazil, US, Jamaica, Trinidad and Tobago, Thailand). He recently conducted a national study on childrearing, mental health and family belief systems and childhood outcomes in Trinidad and Tobago.
He was a consultant to the Roving Caregivers Programme, an intervention for parents and children which was implemented in several Caribbean countries. He also assisted in revising the Guyanese national early childhood curriculum. He served as an Indo-US Sub-commission Professor of Psychology at the University of Delhi, Fulbright scholar to the University of West Indies, Trinidad and Tobago, a Distinguished Visiting Nehru Chair at M. S. Baroda University, Gujarat, and has also taught at Utah State University, Cornell University, Pennsylvania State University, City University of New York and the University of Wisconsin, Madison.
A former Editor of the journal Fathering, he has published over one-hundred (100) articles and book chapters on children across cultures. His recent books Caribbean Psychology: Indigenous contributions to a global discipline (with Dr. Derek Chadee; American Psychological Association, 2015) and Fathers across cultures: The importance, roles and diverse practices of dads (Praeger, 2105) are currently available from Amazon.
Dr. Roopnarine’s research interests include children’s play across cultures, father-child relationships across cultures, Caribbean families and childhood outcomes, early childhood education in international perspective, immigrant families and schooling in the U.S.
Suzanna began as a mobile playworker, or playranger, in socio-economically deprived neighbourhoods in Rochdale, UK. She then pursued a second BA, and graduated in 2012 with a First-Class Honours Degree in Playwork. At the same time, she helped to found Pop-Up Adventure Play in both the UK and US, and was Lead Playworker during a two-month residency on Governors Island in NYC. Based in the UK, she is currently working towards her PhD in Playwork at Leeds Beckett University studying a potential play movement in the USA. At Pop-Up Adventure Play, she leads on project coordination including all three Pop-Ups Tours, and manages online communications for all social media platforms.
Alice oversees Playing Out CIC, developing new projects and talking up street play to anyone who will listen. Previously, she worked mainly in the environmental and voluntary sectors, including for Sustrans, Friends of the Earth and Climateworks, as well as running her own organic food shop. Since being a parent, she has also been actively involved in community efforts towards creating a more liveable neighbourhood, with a particular focus on children’s independent mobility and their access to public space in the city.
Ben Tawil is part-time Lecturer at Leeds Beckett University and joint Director of Ludicology where he and Mike Barclay provide advice research and training to all those concerned with children's play. Ben holds a BA Hons Play and Playwork as well as a Post Graduate Certificate in Professional Development.
Ben has worked in management positions in adventure playgrounds, as Local Authority Play Development Officer, as National Play Development officer for Play Wales, and as Senior Lecturer in Childhood Studies at Glyndwr University. Ben is a director on the board to two charities ‘The Venture’ and ‘Play Wales”.
Ben’s work has appeared in publications such as: Foundations of Playwork, Playwork Theory in to Practice and Childhood: Services and Provision for Children; as well as in industry publications such as: ip-dip, Play For Wales, PACEY: Childcare Professional Magazine.
Ben’s consultancy with Wrexham Local Authority on their Play Sufficiency Assessment has received significant acclaim, the methods and findings from which have been presented to many national and international audiences.
Chris Martin is a playworker, writer/researcher, and playwork activist. He has an MA in Play and Playwork and is currently engaged in fieldwork for his PhD in Geography at the University of Leicester, examining the interaction between children and mobile digital technology in their outdoor play. He is on the board of the International Play Association (EWNI), a fellow of the Royal Geographical Society (with Institute of British Geographers), and has published and delivered academic and professional papers in the UK and internationally. He is also a face-to-face playworker at Tiverton Adventure Playground, currently focusing on building a green oak treehouse with children and volunteers.
He was the main writer and project lead for the UK Play and Playwork Education and Skills Strategy 2011-2016; facilitated the All Party Parliamentary Group on Play, and for over ten years was National Playwork Convenor for the Community, Youth and Playworker’s Section of Unite the Union, the UK’s largest Trade Union. Prior to this he was chair of the Association of Playworkers (England), and has played an active role on the UK Play Safety Forum, Children’s Play Policy Forum, and on Play England’s former Strategic Advisory Board.
A former secondary English teacher, Tom now works within teacher education focusing upon research into English pedagogy.
Tom's PhD thesis explored boys' identities through their creative writing as they made the transition from primary to secondary school. Written as a play-script, the thesis has been published by Sense as a methodological critique; it also resulted in journal publications relating to English pedagogy.
Most of Tom's teaching now focuses on English pedagogy and work with schools in our partnership to develop practice which engages pupils and has an impact upon their learning.
Helen is an architect with a background in private practice and has spent many years advising on the design of housing and neighbourhoods for the Homes and Communities Agency. More recently she has worked with Playing Out CIC to research the impact of residential street layout on children’s independent play and mobility. She is a street play activator for Leeds, organising regular sessions on her own street and helping others across the city to do the same.
Joan Moore is currently in her third year of doctoral study at Leeds Beckett University on using narrative and drama to support permanent placements. As a freelance Dramatherapist, Play Therapist and Adoption Support Provider, she carries out her “Theatre of Attachment” model of life history therapy with foster and adoptive families mainly in the child’s family home, occasionally in school. She also supervises creative therapists. Her background being in social work with Children and Families, Fostering, Adoption and Youth Justice, she has run parent groups, delivered training, undertaken court assessments of parents, siblings, and Prospective Adoptive/Foster Carers.
Joan’s publications include: Moore J. (2014) “Emotional Problem Solving using Stories Drama and Play, Hinton House; Moore J. (2012) “Once upon a time…stories and drama to use in direct work with adopted and foster children" BAAF; Corrigan and Moore, (2011) "Listening to Children’s Wishes and Feelings”, BAAF, and several peer reviewed articles.
John is a Professor, based at the Glasgow School for Business and Society (Glasgow Caledonian University). His research interests span the studies of the provision of environments for children, children’s use of space, children’s play and child poverty. He has written research reports for Play Scotland to assist in developing a national understanding of play in Scotland. These reports include School Grounds in Scotland (2005), Local Authority Play Provision in Scotland (2007), Developing Play in Scotland (2008) and the Scottish National Play Barometer (2013). His earliest work in the field of play was The Business of Children’s Play, an examination of the commercial provision of play space for young children in the UK (funded by the Economic and Social Research Council). He has delivered keynote addresses to conferences convened by PlayBoard Northern Ireland, Play Scotland, Skillsactive, Yorkshire Play, Children’s Play Council, European Cities for Children, Generation Youth, European Child in the City and Play Education.
John has experience of presenting research findings to a wide range of user groups and is committed to applied research. He has edited two collections of papers examining the impact of Austerity on playwork (Journal of Playwork Practice, 2014) and playspace provision (International Journal of Play, 2015) and an earlier collection of papers on 'Children's playgrounds in the built environment', a Special Edition of the Built Environment (Alexandrine Press, 1999). More importantly, he is dad to Lauren (28), Corrie (23) and Morven (8) and granddad to Finn (1).
After graduating from Edinburgh University (with an MA in Social Geography), Kat worked for eight years mainly in the arts (running community arts and theatre-in-education projects, including for boilerhouse theatre company and for Scottish Book Trust) but also with disability and refugee support organisations. In 2004 Kat moved into Public Health when she joined NHS Health Scotland, working on the Sexual Health then Young People’s programmes, then from 2007-2010, managing the Screening & Immunisation Programme. During that time she also successfully completed a (part-time) Masters in Public Health from Glasgow University. In November 2016 she joined the Place Standard Implementation team, moving across from the Early Years, Children’s and Families Programme.
Kat is also a Director of the Edinburgh-based All or Nothing Aerial Dance Company, and of the Skelf-Bike Park. She has travelled widely in the past, including four months cycle-touring in East Africa in 1999, an extended trip around South America during a career break in 2010/11, and a camping road trip of New Zealand when her son was five months. She speaks four languages, and as her son is now three, spends a lot of her free time picking up sticks, making sand castles, jumping in puddles, and building dens.
Over the years, Lesli has worked in a variety of play settings as well as being a playworker in a special school for children with emotional and behavioural difficulties for four years. She has worked as a regional playwork development officer in the north east and spent eight years at SkillsActive, the sector skills council representing playwork, as the UK Strategic Lead for Playwork. She is a trustee of Play England and currently a senior lecturer in playwork at Leeds Beckett University. When she grows up, she wants to be in a rock band.
Lisa began her career as a Primary School Teacher and now works as a Senior Lecturer teaching across ITT Undergraduate and Postgraduate courses. Lisa's specialist area is Drama pedagogy, working in partnership with schools to develop meaningful and motivational learning opportunities for children.
Drawing on her background in Psychology and Drama, Lisa has worked in a number of settings including hospitals and Special Education Needs settings developing creative pedagogy. She has worked as a Senior Leader in a Bradford Primary school, leading innovative curriculum developments and strengthening school partnerships with parents. Since joining Leeds Beckett, Lisa has developed her specialism further, teaching as part of the English team and completing an MA in Contemporary Performance. This gave an International perspective to her research. Her work looks at storytelling and story making as a tool to create meaningful experiential teaching and learning communities with young people and teacher facilitators. Lisa also works with a number of partnership schools, marginalised groups and Theatre Companies to promote learning that engages young people and has impact on their learning and development.
Mike has been working with or on behalf of children and their play for over 15 years. For nearly 10 of those he has been with Wrexham Council facilitating research with children, developing playwork projects, protecting and enhancing spaces for play, supporting the professional development of the wider play workforce, and encouraging consideration of children’s play through all aspects of the local authority’s work.
Mike’s work on the Welsh Government’s Play Sufficiency Duty and risk-benefit management systems in Wrexham have received national and international recognition and he has presented on these topics in all four countries within the United Kingdom.
Mike is particularly interested in children’s satisfaction with their opportunities for play; playwork, as play centred community development; play as a function of all public space, and flexibility and uncertainty as design principles of space intended for children. Mike is a qualified playworker, design engineer and adult trainer, and has background in out of school childcare and staffed, open access, play provision. He is also a dad of two girls and husband of one wonderful woman.
Sarah currently is in the second year of a PhD at Glasgow Caledonian University entitled "’Girls’ toys and ‘boys’ toys: learning through play". There is always lively debate between adults around toys and gender, usually exclaiming concern that girls and boys potential is being limited by the increasing ‘genderisation’ of children’s toys. Sarah's PhD is an ethnography, which as well as observing children playing in play settings, also aims to find out their thoughts, feelings and experiences of toys and gender. This study will also look at the play environments to see how gender stereotypes are challenged and/or reinforced by playworkers, the resources and how the play environment is arranged. It is hoped that this research will help to improve playwork practice.
Shelly has worked in the playwork field for over 25 years as a practitioner, trainer, author, editor and researcher, and is currently completing a PHD on playwork practice at UCL IOE. She has delivered training and presentations on playwork in many countries around the world, and has been developing playwork practice in Hong Kong since 2009. She is the Managing Editor of Journal of Playwork Practice and the Vice-President of the International Council for Children’s Play. Shelly is the editor of the Routledge series, ‘Advances in Playwork Research’ and the co-editor of the first book to be published in this series ‘Researching Play from a Playwork Perspective’. She is also the Series Editor for the popular ‘Buskers Guides’ series (published by Jessica Kingsley Publishers), and is currently writing a playwork textbook (to be published by Routledge 2018).
Wendy Russell has been around for a while, initially working on adventure playgrounds in the 1970s and 1980s, then moving into development, education and training work with statutory, voluntary and private organisations at local, national at international level. She currently works as Senior Lecturer in Play and Playwork at the University of Gloucestershire. Much of her work has been with Stuart Lester, including Play for a Change (NCB, 2008), Children’s Right to Play (IPA/Bernard van Leer, 2010), Leopard Skin Wellies, a Top Hat and a Vacuum Cleaner Hose: An analysis of Wales’ Play Sufficiency Assessment duty (Play Wales, 2013) and Co-creating an Adventure Playground (CAP): Reading playwork stories, practices and artefacts (also with John Fitzpatrick, UoG, 2014). She is a co-founder of the biennial Philosophy at Play conferences and has co-edited (with Emily Ryall and Malcolm MacLean) three volumes of papers from these conferences, published by Routledge. Her latest publication, co-edited with Stuart Lester and Hilary Smith, is Practice-based Research in Children’s Play (Policy Press, 2017). She is on the Editorial Board of the International Journal of Children’s Play.
Workshop themes will include research practice, meeting children's play needs, education, playworking, and places & spaces for childhoods.
Schedule for the day:
09:30 Arrival and refreshments
10:00 Keynote followed by workshops
13:30 Keynote followed by workshops
16:00 Plenary session
If you have any queries or special requirements please email Sue Rooke: HSSresearchoffice@leedsbeckett.ac.uk