What is Playwork?

Playwork is the work of creating and maintaining spaces full of possibilities for children to play. The theory and practice of playwork recognises that children’s play should be freely chosen, personally directed and intrinsically motivated. Playworkers understand children's play must not be 'adulterated' by any adult or external agendas to purposely redirect, encourage or plan for children’s play in order to achieve specific learning outcomes.” - Wikipedia

Playwork is the term used to describe the type of work done by playworkers. It is a very specific type of work distinctive from other ways of working with children in a number of ways, particularly in the very hands-off style of adult interaction with children that is at the core of playwork.

Playwork defines play as being; “… what children and young people do when they follow their own ideas and interests, in their own way and for their own reasons.” (The National Review of Children’s Play 2004)

It takes place on adventure playgrounds, in street play projects, out of school care schemes and holiday playschemes, in play pods based in schools and local playgrounds, and on double-decker buses and mobile play van projects. There are some significant differences between each of these types of playwork but all operate through a shared philosophy and an agreed set of operational guidelines - the Playwork Principles (see below).

With its origins in the United Kingdom and Demark there are well established networks and routes to training and qualification in those countries and in Japan and Germany too. There is also an emerging field in a number of other countries around the world include the USA and Australia.

Learn more about leading Playwork Organisations around the word.

Playwork Principles

Playwork Principles establish the professional and ethical framework for playwork and as such must be regarded as a whole. They describe what is unique about play and playwork, and provide the playwork perspective for working with children and young people. They are based on the recognition that children and young people's capacity for positive development will be enhanced if given access to the broadest range of environments and play opportunities.

Read more about the Playwork Principles via the "Playwork Principles Scrutiny Group, Cardiff 2005"


Learn more about Playwork Organisation around the world

Playwork Principles - Learn more about play work principles ~ Skills Active

International Playwork - Learn more about International Playwork ~ International Play Association (IPA) World

Playwork Organisation - Australia - Learn more about playwork in Australia ~ Play Australia

Playwork Organisation - Wales - Play Wales

Playwork Organisation - Scotland - Play Scotland

Playwork Organisation - Northern Ireland - Playboard Northern Ireland

Playwork Organisation - England - Play England

Mobile Playwork - Learn more about mobile play work projects ~ Play on Wheels

Adventure Play Grounds - Learn more about adventure playgrounds

Play Pods - Learn more about play pods ~ Scrapstore PlayPod©

Urban Play Rangers - Learn more about play rangers ~ Reading Play

Pop-Up Adventrue Play - United Kingdom

Ithaca Children's Garden - United States of America