Professional playworkers are a key part of the children’s workforce throughout the UK. Playwork is a skilled profession that supports and enhances children’s play. The aim is to ensure that children have enriching space in which to play and any support they might request from the playworkers.
Playwork is not easy or simply about providing children with free time – good playwork takes a lot of thought and skill. As described in the section about play, many of the benefits of play are derived when children are free to follow their own instincts, and these particular benefits are not available to children when adults programme activities. The role of the playworker is therefore to support the process of play as it unfolds (if their support is desired or needed by the children), and to create the conditions that help enriching play experiences to happen in the first place.
Providing this quality of opportunity in a way that is about enabling free exploration by the children is no easy task, particularly for playworkers in more restricted environments such as a shared community hall – but certainly not impossible.
Playworkers can be most often found working in play rangers services (such as our Out2Play project), out of school clubs, playschemes, and adventure playgrounds.