Play Policy & Legislation
Current play policy in Wales
Explore Play policy & legislation
The Welsh Government places great value on play and on children’s importance in our society.
Ever since it was established, the Welsh Government has continued to be world leading in its support for children’s right to play. The Welsh Government’s vision is to create a play friendly Wales.
In 2002, the Welsh Government published its Play Policy, the first national play policy in the world. The policy was founded on the principle that all children have a right to play. It reflects the government’s commitment to ensuring that:
- children and their needs are central to policy making
- provision is made to meet children’s needs.
The rationale for a national play policy
Play Wales wrote a rationale for children’s play and play provision that led to the drafting and adoption of the Play Policy. The Rationale for a National Play Policy for Wales contains a definition of children’s play, as well as information about the:
- importance of play in children’s lives
- benefits of play for communities and society
- benefits of having a national policy for play.
Play Policy Implementation Plan
The importance of play is recognised and protected internationally, in the United Nations Convention on the Rights of the Child (UNCRC). Article 31 of the Convention explicitly states that children have the right to play and to join in other recreational activities. It also states that countries that have signed up to the UNCRC should protect these rights.
In 2004, the Welsh Government formally adopted the UNCRC as the basis for its policy-making relating to children. It established a multidisciplinary Play Policy Implementation Group to develop recommendations for how play should develop in Wales.
In 2006, the Welsh Government launched Play in Wales, its Play Policy Implementation Plan. This plan sets out how the principles detailed in the Play Policy would be implemented. It draws together existing support for play (projects and provision) and sets the direction for the future. It also includes a set of key actions and a timetable for delivery.
Play Sufficiency Duty
In 2010, Wales became the first country in the world to pass a law about opportunities for children’s play.
The Welsh Government recognised that it needed the involvement of others to achieve its aim of a play friendly Wales that provides opportunities for children to play. It understood that it would also be necessary for local authorities, their partners and other stakeholders to work towards this.
As a result, the government passed a law protecting children’s right to play, giving local authorities a statutory responsibility (known as a duty) to both assess and ensure that their area provides children with enough opportunities to play.
The Play Sufficiency Duty, included in the Play Opportunities section of the Children and Families (Wales) Measure 2010, was introduced in two parts. The first part, which requires local authorities to assess whether they are providing enough opportunities for children to play in their areas, was commenced in November 2012. The second part, which was commenced in July 2014, says that local authorities must secure enough opportunities for children to play in their area, as far is reasonable and practical.
Ministerial Review of Play
In November 2019, the Deputy Minister for Health and Social Services decided to undertake a Ministerial Review of Play. The review, which was completed in 2022, had two aims:
- to assess the Welsh Government’s work relating to play policy
- to help the Welsh Government shape how it develops and progresses the play agenda.
A cross-professional steering group of play and playwork specialists and policy officials from across the Welsh Government was set up to support the review. This steering group developed the final set of key recommendations and milestones that are set out in the Ministerial Review of Play Steering Group report.
Play Wales coordinated the drafting of the review report and the background paper that supports the report.