Playwork apprenticeship group hopes for third time lucky in trailblazer bid

The government panel did not think there were sufficient differences between playwork and early years education.
Ali Wood reports on the current situation of potential government funding for playwork training in England*

The playwork apprenticeship group in England has been advised that its second expression of interest to qualify for the government’s Trailblazer Apprenticeship programme, the key to funding from the Apprenticeship Levy has been declined. The group is preparing a third bid.

Since my previous overview, in February 2017, the government has been pressing ahead with its trailblazer apprenticeships and introduced more funding through the Apprenticeship Levy (available in England only).

In the current climate, this scheme represents the best hope for central funding and recognition for playwork training in England and a group of playwork employers drawn from across England, mostly from adventure playgrounds and after-school clubs, have been working hard to compile an expression of interest bid for a trailblazer playwork apprenticeship. 

Whilst this sounds relatively quick and simple, it has not been – the first application was knocked back as the panel (which does not comprise anyone from a playwork background) did not think there were sufficient differences between playwork and early years education or even between playwork and youth work. 

The group has liaised with both of these sectors in compiling a new bid that does set out the differences in approach but using language that will make sense to the reviewing panel.  This has taken an extraordinary amount of voluntary time (well done Playwork Trailblazer group!) and culminated in the bid finally being resubmitted in February this year for a level 2 playwork apprenticeship.  The group has also worked on putting together learning outcomes and assessment strategies at both levels 2 and 3 as the plan is to submit a bid for level 3 once the level 2 has been accepted.

This is a different kind of apprenticeship to that which has gone before and the group has worked hard to address those issues and failings highlighted above and to ensure content is up to date and relevant to practice.  If it is accepted, it would come on stream either later this year or early next year when previous qualifications are likely to be expiring.

We will bring you news as soon as we have it. Watch this space!

Wales and Northern Ireland

*Wales and Northern Ireland are of course still regulated and therefore playworkers in each of these nations are still required to have playwork qualifications. Wales has developed a number of excellent qualifications, currently available only in Wales, although Play Wales has been pushing for these to be made available elsewhere.  Northern Ireland still offers playwork at levels 2, 3 and 5 via City and Guilds who have just agreed to re-extend registration on the current playwork diplomas beyond September 2019, although a potential expiry date is still to be agreed.  CACHE is currently saying that they will review in September 2019 whether they will continue to offer playwork qualifications in England and Wales, as current take-up may not warrant a successful business case to continue.

Ali Wood

Photo: Meriden Adventure Playground

3 thoughts on “Playwork apprenticeship group hopes for third time lucky in trailblazer bid

  1. plexity says:

    “The government panel did not think there were sufficient differences between playwork and early years education.”

    How long has the playwork field had, in which to develop a clear, concise, unjargonated delineation of the myriad differences between the three, in language that “the reasonable man on the Clapham* omnibus” can understand?

    Since the late 70s, I reckon.

    This is our own fault.

    *Not the one that goes past Gordon Sturrock’s house. That’s full of postmodern deconstructionistas and rebarbative neo-noosphericalists.

  2. donnebuck says:

    I have been in playwork since 1957 and helped to set up a group of would-be qualified playworkers as The Playleadership Institute in London shortly after. But I had to train as a primaryschool teacher to get any kind of recognised qualification that would get me a playwork job in 1967. Others were luckier later when the first playleaders course was set up at Thurrock. Good luck with your current endeavours.

  3. donnebuck says:

    Corection: The Institute of Playleadership. c.f. The Donne Buck Play and Playgrounds Archive, V&A Museum of Childhood.

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