Driving change for children and young people through play

Play Scotland & Inspiring Scotland held a free seminar in Inverness on the 1st December, one of 6 similar events held throughout Scotland. The event was chaired by Cath King, Health Improvement Policy Manager and Chair of FHC4 Play Improvement Group/Play Highland. Speakers included Deborah Hay (EY Division, Scottish Government), Julia Abel (Go2Play Performance Advisor, Inspiring Scotland) and Cherie Morgan (Play Development Officer, Play Scotland).

Cath King with slide of Play Improvement Group outdoor meeting at Evanton Community Woods

Cath King with slide of Play Improvement Group outdoor meeting at Evanton Community Woods

Cath introduced the day by presenting the Highland perspective, with particular reference to the Highland Play Strategy including the PIG group Driver Diagram, Play Highland social media and recent local play events highlighting free play (Mud ‘n Mischief). Cath also highlighted CALA’s CAM (Community Asset Mapping) project which reflected a successful consultation process with those in the know – the children.

After a video introduction by Aileen Campbell MSP, Minister for Children and Young People, we looked at:

  • The national Play Strategy and what has been achieved so far
  • How play contributes to achieving local and national outcomes & priorities
  • The opportunities presented by play as a new Key Change area for the Early Years Collaborative
  • New tools available that will support and enhance provision, or encourage development of new services

A short video on Risk Assessment was given by Judith Hackitt, Chair of the Health & Safety Executive. Judith writes a regular Risk Assessment blog which you can access here.

Facilitated discussion tables highlighted various local issues including effective communication, inter generational collaboration, confusion over what is meant by ‘play’ and its integral relationship with learning, and the importance of partnership working, especially in a climate of cutbacks.


Play Ranger Workshop

Following a ‘Spotlight on Play’ by Dornoch Allsorts After School Club, the afternoon workshops included an introduction to the Play Ranger scheme. When delivered effectively, Play Rangers can achieve significant outcomes for children, parents and communities; it may be a model for future consideration in Highland.

A common sense approach to risk assessment was the advice given during the Care Inspectorate workshop, plus the dispelling of myths concerning regulatory control, e.g. it’s ok to hug a child.


Keep Calm and Hug a Nursery Teacher

In the closing discussions all delegates were made aware of Play Matters, (Play Highland’s monthly newsletter), and also Play Highland’s website and social media presence, maintained by Laura Donald. Signing up for the newsletter will help keep interested parties informed of play related training and events, as well as national and international research findings.


Kirsty Hunter & Sandra MacBean with copy of ‘Play this Way’, to be distributed free to 8 year olds in the New Year.

Several Care and Learning Alliance staff members attended the event including Sandra MacBean (Quality Improvement Officer, OSC), Kirsty Hunter (Mentoring Support Officer), Janine Donald (Communications Officer) and Moira Lane (Family First Coordinator).  Hayley Abell also attended – Hayley is one of CALA Staffbank’s employability project success stories, having completed #openingdoors  and recently commenced her post as Childcare Support Worker at Dingwall Ducklings.

We were given several useful handouts on the day and we’ve located the online versions which you might find useful:

Janine Donald, CALA Communications and ICT Support Officer