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The Playwork Principles

Explore playwork

The Playwork Principles define what is unique about playwork and give a shared understanding of what playworkers do.

The Playwork Principles recognise the impact that access to the broadest range of environments and play opportunities has on children’s and young people’s capacity for positive development.

About the Playwork Principles

This set of eight principles describes:

  •  what is special and unique about play (Playwork Principles 1 and 2)
  •  the playwork approach to working with children and young people (Playwork Principles 3 to 8).

The Playwork Principles apply to all children.

They were developed by the Playwork Principles Scrutiny Group, established by Play Wales, in consultation with the UK playwork sector and adopted in 2005.

The Playwork Principles have since gone on to underpin the UK National Occupational Standards for playwork and have informed qualification development and delivery in Wales and the UK. The Playwork Principles have also been widely adopted internationally.


The Playwork Principles

The 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.

The Principles 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.

  1. All children and young people need to play. The impulse to play is innate. Play is a biological, psychological and social necessity, and is fundamental to the healthy development and wellbeing of individuals and communities.
  2. Play is a process that is freely chosen, personally directed and intrinsically motivated. That is, children and young people determine and control the content and intent of their play, by following their own instincts, ideas and interests, in their own way for their own reasons.
  3. The prime focus and essence of playwork is to support and facilitate the play process and this should inform the development of play policy, strategy, training and education.
  4. For playworkers, the play process takes precedence and playworkers act as advocates for play when engaging with adult led agendas.
  5. The role of the playworker is to support all children and young people in the creation of a space in which they can play.
  6. The playworker’s response to children and young people playing is based on a sound up to date knowledge of the play process, and reflective practice.
  7. Playworkers recognise their own impact on the play space and also the impact of children and young people’s play on the playworker.
  8. Playworkers choose an intervention style that enables children and young people to extend their play. All playworker intervention must balance risk with the developmental benefit and wellbeing of children.


Please note: The Playwork Principles are held in trust for the UK playwork profession by the Scrutiny Group that acted as an honest broker, overseeing the consultations through which they were developed.

The copyright statement relating to this website does not apply to the Playwork Principles, and the copyright of the Playwork Principles does not belong to Play Wales. The copyright is held in trust for the playwork profession by the Playwork Principles Scrutiny Group. Any reference in writing or otherwise to the Playwork Principles should be credited to the Playwork Principles Scrutiny Group, Cardiff 2005.


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Our publications are aimed at everyone who has an interest in, or responsibility for,  children’s play.

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