What is unique about playwork?


At the launch of the Playwork Foundation in November 2017, Professor Fraser Brown described the elements of playwork practice that he identifies as unique within the children’s workforce, using playwork stories to illustrate each point.

He has now followed up his presentation with an expanded paper, which can be downloaded below, while the list of unique elements is set out here:

The Unique Elements of Playwork

A conceptualisation of the child that actively resists dominant and subordinating narratives and practices.

A belief that, while playing, the ‘being’ child is far more important than the ‘becoming’ child.

An adherence to the principle that the vital outcomes of playing are derived by children in inverse proportion to the degree of adult involvement in the process.

A non-judgemental acceptance of the children as they really are, running hand in hand with an attitude, when relating to the children, of ‘unconditional positive regard’.

An approach to practice that involves a willingness to relinquish adult power, suspend any preconceptions, and work to the children’s agenda.

The provision of environments that are characterised by flexibility, so that the children are able to create (and possibly destroy and recreate) their own play environments according to their own needs.

A general acceptance that risky play can be beneficial, and that intervention is not necessary unless a safety or safeguarding issue arises.

A continuous commitment to deep personal reflection that manages the internal relationship between the playworker’s present and former child-self, and the effects of that relationship on their current practice.

Fraser Brown

Read Professor Brown’s full paper: What Is Unique About Playwork

Photo: Adrian Voce

fraser-brown Inaugural

Fraser Brown is the world’s first Professor of Playwork and the author of numerous papers, chapters and books on play and playwork.

He and the playwork team at Leeds Beckett University have contributed a chapter to the forthcoming Cambridge Handbook of Play (Roopnarine & Smith 2018), which will include  a discussion of these unique elements of playwork.


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