Foundation seminars remember Sturrock and Else

Early this year The Playwork Foundation launched a new series of seminars around the UK, about the Play Cycle, taken from Gordon Sturrock and Perry Else’s now-famous Colorado Paper – The playground as Therapeutic Space: Playwork as Healing.

The Play Cycle helps us better understand children’s playing and the ways in which they communicate and behave when they are playing.  In turn this understanding also informs our own reflective response and helps us gauge whether or not any intervention from us  – and at what level – might be needed.  Play cues, play returns, play frames, and adulteration are now part of the everyday language of most playworkers and there is always room for further reflection on how these affect our practice.

Sturrock and Else’s iconic Play Cycle


The seminars were also designed as an opportunity to meet with more playwork members and potential members and talk through the issues affecting them where they are. And then coronavirus began to rapidly spread across the world and our lives have all changed…

BUT, we did manage to run one of these seminars in early March, before the UK went into lockdown. We had a great day in Leicester, at Goldhill Adventure Playground, with 33 playworkers, from other adventure playgrounds, play centres, and play organisations all over Leicester.

We spent the morning looking at the Play Cycle in action, and at risk-benefit assessment. We also shared lots of anecdotes and stories, and after a plentiful lunch provided by Goldhill, we worked together in the afternoon doing SWOT analyses on play provision in Leicester – unpacking what the strengths, weaknesses, opportunities, and threats were for different organisations and what we could, therefore, learn from each other; what we might do to capitalise on the identified opportunities; and how we might support each other across the sector, as well as in Leicester itself. 

Mutual commitment

It was wonderful to meet so many playworkers we didn’t know and feel that instant rapport, recognition of a mutual commitment to children’s rights, and shared appreciation of the power of play. 

Thank you Leicester for your enthusiasm and participation and thank you Goldhill (who recently were shortlisted for the Front-line Playwork Award at the National Playwork Conference in Eastbourne) for hosting such a valuable day. More of these seminars have been planned and as soon as we are able, we will be rolling them out in Torbay, Sheffield, Wrexham, Evesham, and more. Watch this space!

Ali Wood and Karen Benjamin

If you would like to host a Playwork Foundation seminar, and publicise it locally where you are, please contact:

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