Indoor activity guidance

Re-opening of unregulated indoor children’s activity

Scottish Government’s message on guidance:

Schools and regulated ELC are beginning again from 11 August and we are receiving queries about whether other indoor activity may resume at the same time.

The answer is that indoor activities for children and young people which are not overseen by a regulator should not start again until agreed guidance is in place.  Unfortunately, back to school does not mean back to normality and for now, ensuring that the transition back to school is successful is our top priority.

For now, activities for children and young people under the age of 18  should continue online or outdoors in line with existing guidance. 

We know that these indoor activities are of huge value to children, young people and families across Scotland and our ambition is to get them open soon as soon as this is deemed appropriate.  We will provide further information about timing with additional guidance where this is necessary.



Play Scotland Calum Space for more space for play

At the beginning of Playday week, Calum Duncan, Chair of Play Scotland asks for more space for play

Even while restrictions are being relaxed, and children no longer have the need to distance, being playful remains crucial. Play is a vital and simple way for families and siblings to feel connected; it is a tonic in the face of anxiety, and it is a way of exploring ideas as an opportunity for intuitive learning.

However, we are challenged by good appropriate space, inside and out, for everyone to play and explore. As restrictions are lifting, traffic is significantly increasing again on our streets. However, public transport remains restricted, and soon more people will be gradually returning to places of work.

Local authorities are expanding the provision of space for pedestrians and cyclists to maintain distancing, and we would encourage these improvements to be implemented as extensively and boldly as possible. Space is needed for children and young people to PLAY, as well as all of us to get fresh air and exercise.

In built up areas, parks and greenspace are already under pressure, and we can extend this space within our towns and cities through appropriate road closures for play, walking and exercise.

This could be roads which are next to parks and schools, even rewilding some of these streets, or considering new connections to woodlands and greenspace which are currently not available or less known. A busy road junction adjacent to schools could be transformed into an expanded playground space, whilst calming car use too. A stretch of residential street could be closed where residents have limited or no gardens.

Closed sections of roads can become space to play on bikes, skateboard, chalk drawing, clowning, games and ball games between siblings, play musical instruments, or to simply relax and escape the indoors with space to breathe.

In the UK overall, 15% of dwellings have no access to private outdoor space. Only 25% of flats have outdoor space and dwellings in the most deprived areas are least likely to have private outdoor space.

It is not just for local authorities to take actions on these issues, we can all help. For every single journey we need to make, the less we drive, the slower we drive, the more we cycle and the more we walk, the more space we are making for all ages to enjoy and play. We have an opportunity to change our mindsets which will improve play space, mentalhealth and wellbeing, as well as the air quality for all of us. Lets make space to play and breathe.



Guidelines for unregulated, informal play services

“Given the importance of play to children’s health and wellbeing it is vital through this crisis that all children and young people can regain access to play opportunities in a range of settings which offer variety, adventure and challenge.”

John Swinney, MSP, Deputy First Minister

Play Scotland is pleased to release Guidelines for unregulated, informal play services which are intended to support the play sector as they consider resuming outdoor organised activities. We hope to be able to release further advice and guidelines over the coming weeks.

Play Scotland Guidelines for Services



Is It Right To Take Your Kids To The Playground Now It’s Allowed?

Paul Hunter, a professor of medicine and expert in infectious diseases based at the University of East Anglia, says it’s important to remember the risk of children contracting the virus is minimal – particularly outdoors where there’s better ventilation, and the virus can be killed by UV light. Read more here:



First Minister Nicola Sturgeon announcement

First Minister Nicola Sturgeon announced,

“We want to help children enjoy these summer holidays a bit more. We also know the clinical risks of Covid, particularly for younger children, appear to be relatively low although we will never be complacent about that. And we know that for as long as there are restrictions on the number of households we can meet, families will find it difficult to balance the social needs for children and adults. Understandably, you all don’t want to see the same people everyday.

Bearing that in mind, I’m announcing today two further changes to our rules to allow for a bit more interaction between young people and these changes will both apply from tomorrow. For children who are 11 years old or under, we’re removing the requirement for you to physically distance with other people when you’re outdoors. That will allow you to play more normally with your friends, which I hope you will enjoy. I’m sure this move will also be appreciated by your parents and carers.

However, other rules will remain the same for the next wee while. You should continue to meet in groups of 8 or less and to meet no more than 2 other households at a time. Adults who are with you should continue to observe physical distancing from each other and physical distancing even for you as children, is still advised indoors.

Our guidance is different for children aged 12-17, we’re not yet relaxing the physical distancing rule for you, and I’m saying more about that shortly. But we know that you don’t want to be limited by who your parents can meet, you want to have your own lives and meet your own friends. So when you meet other people, we are still asking you to do that outdoors, and you should still stick to a limit of 8 people from no more than three households at any one time. However, we will lift the number, the limit on the number of meetings you can have in one day. That means you can meet different groups of friends, at different times of the day, and also importantly it won’t mean you won’t be prevented meeting your friends just because your parents or carers or your brother or sisters happens to be meeting their friends. As I said for now we’re asking older children to still keep 2 metres distant from people in other households, even outdoors. I know that the advice we published today suggests that this is less important for young people, so we do hope that this will change in the weeks to come, but initially and for your safety, we want to act cautiously.

Now these changes are careful but important steps that I hope will make life just a little bit easier and also perhaps a little bit more fun for children and young people. I hope next week to set out more changes, not just for children, but for adults as well, to how households can meet, interact and play, and I also hope to confirm at that stage, that organised outdoor contact sports for children can resume from the 13th of July.

However I hope these changes, do allow you as children and young people a bit more freedom in meeting up with your friends, and I hope they allow you to make a bit more of the summer holidays, even if as will probably be the case in Scotland, it’s raining for much of the time.”

Nicola Sturgeon

First Minister of Scotland

2nd July 2020



Playful Schools – building resilience through play

Play Scotland is delighted to announce the launch of its new project, Playful Schools, in partnership with ScrapAntics, supported by the Wellbeing fund.

Play Scotland, ScrapAntics and Dundee City Council have a proven track record of working together to support play in Dundee. The Playful Schools project will work with local partners including the Children and Families Development and the Community Learning and Development team at Dundee City Council, to deliver weekly loose parts play sessions through the hubs and understand the impact of this form of play on children’s wellbeing. All activities will be adapted to respond to the changing phases of the Covid-19 crisis.

Play Scotland, through the Playful Schools Project will:

i. Work with ScrapAntics to develop and deliver a creative and flexible model of loose parts play taking account of Covid-19 restrictions to provide play sessions in the Dundee Community Support Hubs over the summer. These will:

  • Provide an alternative, strengths-based learning environment for children
  • Increase physical health through enabling access to outdoor play opportunities
  • Encourage children to re-engage with children-led, unstructured learning activities
  • Enable children to work through their emotions through physical activity
  • Support staff in the hubs by providing alternative resources
  • Provide opportunities for socialisation and relaxation

ii. Create a customised resource pack to support children’s mental health and well-being in partnership with Dundee City Council. Drawing on the Play Scotland Home play pack (almost 25,000 packs already delivered in 31 local authorities), we will develop a resource pack to support the health and wellbeing of children, and provide play resources that will engage children and support their transition to school.

iii. Build a new model based on a robust evaluation of Playful Schools to allow the model to be used in settings across Scotland, including the development of a Handbook, Risk Benefit Assessments and case study. The evaluation process will focus on creating a new model that can be implemented across Scotland. We will measure incremental improvements in the support already provided by the Hubs and will develop clear indicators to assess impact of the intervention on the mental health and well-being of children.




An evidence report on Covid-19 and children’s play

An evidence report on Covid-19 and children’s play shows that the benefits of children playing outside outweigh the risks. The UK Play Safety Forum have been very concerned about the lack of statistical clarity around the impact of the Covid-19 virus on children. It was agreed that it would be very helpful for policy makers to have a document that made clear the true impact of the virus in terms of children’s health in order to help balance the risks of the virus compared to the damage of current policy to their wellbeing and development. In discussion it was felt that the Forum was probably one of the most experienced and qualified bodies to put this together.

David Ball, Professor of Risk Management at Middlesex University, agreed to write a report on this together with the Help of Tim Gill and Andrew Yates, who chairs the British and European Standards Committees for children’s play. The report is also supported by the UK Children’s Play Policy Forum.

Covid19 and Play Report



A Place in Childhood: Covid-19 project with Scottish children and young people

Over 3 workshops held in May, 25 young people between the ages of 10 to 16 years had their say on how Covid 19 is affecting their lives and school work, as part of a project supported by the children’s charity A Place in Childhood (APiC).

The teams included children from Aberdeen, Edinburgh, Glasgow and Rural Stirlingshire, with a Rural Falkirk team joining the third workshop. Participants were recruited with help from Leith Community Crops in Pots, the Children’s Parliament, and local primary and secondary schools in Aberdeen and Denny.

Despite very different places and backgrounds, there was strong consensus among the young people regarding the 5 big changes affecting them due to Covid-19, and the associated challenges and remedies. The third workshop focused on those challenges where they believed small improvements could make a big difference. Remote schooling emerged as a top priority for all, and their views and recommendations were published in the Scotland on Sunday 14th June 2020.