Play Pedagogy Award

Join us on a Play Pedagogy journey!


At Play Scotland, we believe in the transformative power of play for children’s development in learning settings and in the community.

The Play Pedagogy Award has been developed by Play Scotland in collaboration with Education Scotland and will recognise and support the efforts of schools to embed play in their practice and ethos.

The Award aims to celebrate and promote a whole school approach to play pedagogy. It has been designed to empower and support educators to nurture creativity and foster a school culture where play is at the heart of every child’s learning journey.

Play pedagogy is a child-centred approach that ignites creativity, inspires imagination, and provides pupils with the flexibility and confidence to find solutions to problems and integrates children’s play experiences with curricular learning.

At its core, this pedagogy requires educators to empower children, allowing them to develop the skills and abilities needed to reach their full potential. Reflective educators play a pivotal role in shaping play pedagogy, understanding how children learn, cultivating a shared understanding of play’s evolution as children grow and adapting their approaches accordingly.

There is a robust evidence base supporting the integral role of play in a child’s development. Play fosters creativity, problem-solving skills, social interactions, and overall well-being.

Recent emphasis on allowing children to be children, encouraging natural curiosity, play, and inquiry, aligns with our goal to develop child-centred pedagogies based on play and enquiry, enabling children to become successful learners, confident individuals, responsible citizens, and effective contributors.

Our award has been developed collaboratively by Play Scotland and Education Scotland, and with Scottish teachers, school leaders, play pedagogy experts, and A Place in Childhood.

It aims to:

  • Promote the value of play and play pedagogy, underpinned by theory and research.
  • Acknowledge the work of play pedagogy pioneers prioritising play in schools.
  • Recognise the importance of a child-centred approach, valuing each child’s unique needs, interests, and abilities.
  • Provide ALL children with the opportunity to learn through play, ensuring accessibility and benefits for all, regardless of backgrounds, abilities, and experiences.
  • Build knowledge, skills, and confidence of educators.
  • Empower schools to raise awareness about the importance of play and play pedagogy with parents, families, and the wider community.

Designed specifically for Scottish Primary Schools and educational policy, and to have an inclusive approach and which is tailored for all children, regardless of background, abilities, or experiences.

The Play Pedagogy Award is a three-phase journey:

  1. Planning Phase: Explore and define what play pedagogy looks like across the school, from primary 1 to primary 7. Undertake self-evaluation and develop an improvement plan.
  2. Implementation Phase: Put the plan into action, demonstrating inclusion, equity, and learning for sustainability across all five strands of the award; Leadership, Professional Learning, Learning Environment, Community, Pedagogy, and Curriculum.
  3. Award Assessment Phase: Tell the story of your school’s unique play pedagogy journey. Share the evaluation and planning stage, take assessors through the implementation phase, and conclude at the Play Pedagogy Award. Provide details of long-term strategy, key changes, developments, and learning along the way, backed by evidence of decision-making processes, observations, self-evaluation, and the application of theory to practice.

The Play Pedagogy Award aligns with the Scottish Government’s commitment to upholding children’s rights, particularly Article 31 (right to play) and Article 12 (right to be heard).

The Play Scotland Pedagogy Award is your school’s opportunity to be a part of a transformative journey towards embedding play in every aspect of education.

Join us in shaping a future where every child has the opportunity to learn, grow, and thrive through play.

Apply now and be a leader in the Play Pedagogy movement!

To learn more and register your school, contact our Play Pedagogy Officer at