Enhanced summer offer for all children

A national “summer of play” to provide access to activities.

Funding of £20 million will deliver a range of activities for children and young people and their families over the summer, ensuring they are provided with opportunities to socialise, play and reconnect within their local communities and environments.

In particular this will provide support for those children and young people who may otherwise struggle to access such experiences during the holidays.

Working with local authorities and partner organisations including sportscotland, Creative Scotland, Play Scotland, Education Scotland and others, the funding will support existing provision of community-based services while also widening access to other local facilities, such as school estates and local sports facilities.

Deputy First Minister John Swinney said:

“We do not underestimate the physical and mental health impacts which children and young people have experienced throughout the pandemic, and that the impacts have fallen unequally across society.

This enhanced range of summer experiences for children and young people will help address the impacts associated with extended periods of isolation and reduced participation in normal activities. This offer will have children’s rights and needs at its heart, and will provide opportunities to socialise across a range of activities, combined with broader support where needed.

This will build on local summer offers, recognising the need for flexibility to deliver using local assets and connecting with wider offers from partners.

Over the next few months we will continue to develop further all aspects of our education recovery strategy with our partners and stakeholders. Following periods of disruption to in-school learning, this will include how we can intensify and deepen support for children and young people’s progress in learning, including in key areas such as literacy, numeracy and health and wellbeing.”



20 minute neighbourhoods in a Scottish context

’20 minute neighbourhoods’ are places that are designed so residents can meet their day-to-day needs within a 20 minute walk of their home; through access to safe walking and cycling routes, or by public transport.

The Programme for Government 2020 commits the Scottish Government to working with local government and other partners to take forward ambitions for 20 minute neighbourhoods in Scotland.

The final report has been published here



Children across Scotland want more play and better play

Play Scotland and Scotland’s Play Council support children and young people’s urgent call for ‘more play, better play’ with eight recommendations for play.

Over the last year, Scotland has had to respond rapidly to the major impact of COVID-19.  Children and young people have seen their freedom to play and opportunities to socialise with their friends severely curtailed. Research continues to show that there has been a negative impact on their physical and mental health as a consequence of play deprivation.

The Play Strategy Progress Report (2021), released today, highlights how play organisations have responded to the pandemic and evidence of the impact of emergency measures on children and young people. It takes account of mitigating measures that the Scottish Government have put in place to support children’s play at a time of national crisis and provides eight recommendations on how Scotland’s Play Strategy should be taken forward in the light of COVID-19.

Maree Todd, Minister for Children and Young People said “We have worked closely with the play sector to protect children’s right to play during the pandemic, as outlined in Play Scotland’s report. We understand the value of outdoor play for children’s wellbeing and resilience, as well as their physical and mental health. I welcome the consultation with children and young people and the insight into how their play opportunities have been affected by COVID-19 restrictions.

Children and families from more deprived areas can often find it more difficult to access organised outdoor activities, so I’m pleased that the additional funding I’ve announced today will help even more children play outside in a safe and fun way.”

Children and young people’s overwhelming response to the consultation was that they needed a return to the play they enjoyed, with improvements and better access to the spaces and resources in their communities, particularly for children with additional support needs.

Marguerite Hunter Blair, CEO of Play Scotland said “Children told us they miss their freedom, not seeing their friends and not being able to play with them. It is vital that we plan now to give children a summer of play in 2021, to allow them to heal, re-connect with their friends and regain their confidence. The eight recommendations for play are an essential part of our recovery from the pandemic and to realising children’s right to play now and in the future.”

The eight recommendations for play highlight the importance of leadership, partnership and collaboration across sectors and interests; the importance of outdoor play and the need for play which includes all children; the necessity of funding to deliver play; and crucially, the necessity of engaging with, and listening to, children and young people in responding to COVID-19 and developing a refreshed Play Strategy. The eight recommendations are:

  • Refresh the Play Strategy and ensure national and local leadership
  • Renew and develop the national and local commitment to outdoor play
  • Listen to children and young people and act on what they say
  • Ensure the inclusion of all children and young people
  • Ensure cross sectoral and inter professional approaches to play
  • Sustain and support play provision through adequate funding
  • Maintain a focus on playful learning and play in schools
  • Strengthen the play sector nationally and locally.



Manifesto for Play

Play Scotland are delighted to launch the Manifesto for Play.  Play is vital to children’s physical, social and emotional wellbeing. This Manifesto for Play advocates for children’s play opportunities with #tenasksforplay We call on all political parties to commit to supporting these Ten Asks in 2021.




Childminding Providers Grants

Funding is being provided to support the business sustainability of Scotland’s childminding providers.

This programme is funded by the Scottish Government alongside the Scottish Childminding Association (SCMA).

Funding of £1 million has been made available for childminders who have been financially impacted by the coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic.

Alongside the funding, a new Childminding Action Plan has been published, setting out the Scottish Government’s vision for the sector and the actions to support it that are being taken now and into the future. These include:

  • Development of flexible, tailored learning models to better support childminders to access continued professional learning.
  • Research into trends within the childminding workforce to better inform future actions to support the growth of the sector.
  • Work collaboratively across the sector to identify and deliver ways in which childminders can be better enabled to participate in the opportunity to provide the funded early learning and childcare (ELC) entitlement.

Childminding businesses in Scotland may apply.

The scheme is yet to open. Work is currently underway with the Scottish Childminding Association (SCMA) to finalise the details of the scheme.

Further information on how to apply will be published shortly.



Parliament unanimously agreed to the general principles of the UNCRC Incorporation (Scotland) Bill

We are pleased to inform you that the Parliament unanimously agreed to the general principles of the United Nations Convention on the Rights of the Child (Incorporation) (Scotland) Bill, after the Stage 1 debate.

As set out in the stage 1 response, the Scottish Government intends to bring forward amendments that deliver on a large number of the Committee’s recommendations to strengthen the Bill. This includes an amendment to make clear that those undertaking functions pursuant to contracts or other arrangements with public authorities should also be subject to the requirement not to act incompatibly with the UNCRC requirements. The Scottish Government’s view is that children and young people deserve to have their rights prioritised and upheld by all those undertaking functions, including those who are paid to undertake functions on behalf of public authorities.



A reminder of the significance of play in lockdown by Tom Gill

It seems timely to share a post that child psychology academic Prof Helen Dodd and I wrote for The Conversation in March last year. With many schoolchildren at home once more, millions of parents across the UK are grappling with the added pressure of trying to home-school at the same time as holding everything else together.

“Free play can also help children make sense of things they find hard to understand.” Helen Dodd and Tim Gill

In one sense lockdown may be a little less daunting this time around, in part because of the hope offered by the vaccination programme. That said, many parents will be all too aware of the impact of school closures on their children’s education. They will be desperate to do whatever they can to keep their children from falling further behind.

But the truth is that no-one benefits if children or their parents are under constant stress. This is why finding some space and time for unstructured, open-ended play is so important. Play can act as a release valve that allows children to feel a sense of their own agency, and to make some kind of sense of their experiences on their own terms, with adult concerns fading into the background.

We still need much greater recognition of children’s need and right to play during lockdown, as the English Children’s Commissioner Anne Longfield has called for.

One small mercy is that unlike the first lockdown, public playgrounds are mostly open, providing a welcome outdoor space, especially for families who have no access to a private garden.

This modest nod to the value of play resonates with a striking photography project put together by Will Britten, a postgraduate student at Central Saint Martins who contacted me late last year. He has put together a portfolio of images of public play areas in London that were fenced off during the first lockdown.

Some of Britten’s images signify a symbolic imprisonment of the human spirit.

But at one park, Britten came across patterns of brightly coloured yarn that had been woven into the barrier fencing around a picnic table. For me, it is a compelling reminder of the irrepressibility of the urge to play.

For the images and full article see



Playful Schools Practice Insights article

Delighted that the Playful Schools project has been featured in Issue 17 of Practice Insights, which is focussed on Community Development Approaches to the COVID-19 crisis.  Article on pages 28-30, attached here.  Full magazine available at