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.