Wales is the first country in the world to legislate for children’s play. The Children and Families Wales) Measure 2010, Section 11 places a statutory duty on local authorities to assess and, as far as is reasonably practicable, secure sufficiency of play opportunities for children. Sections 11(1), 11(2), 11(5) and 11(6) of the Duty were commenced in November 2012, and local authorities were required to carry out Play Sufficiency Assessments (PSAs) and submit these by 31 March 2013. A small scale research project was undertaken that explored how local authorities responded to the introduction of the duty to assess sufficiency of play opportunities for children. It was carried out by Stuart Lester and Wendy Russell of the University of Gloucestershire with support from Dr Owain Jones and Nick Lewis of the Countryside and Communities Research Institute (CCRI) based at the University of Gloucestershire. The report was published as Leopard Skin Wellies, a Top Hat and a Vacuum Cleaner Hose: An Analysis of Wales’ Play Sufficiency Assessment Duty. The title comes from an anecdote told by playworkers that encapsulates the many things that go to make up a culture of acceptance that means that a child dressed in these items is nothing remarkable and yet says everything about a play-friendly neighbourhood. The research drew on data from 20 local authority PSAs and associated documentation, interviews and notes from stakeholder meetings in three local authority case studies, notes from observing regional meetings to share experiences across local authorities, interviews with a Welsh Government officer and key officers from national partners (Play Wales and Welsh Local Government Association) and an online survey for key stakeholders involved in the PSA process. A summary of the report is available here, and the full report can be requested.
In December 2013, the Welsh Government announced that it would be commencing the remaining elements of the Duty (including the duty to secure sufficient play opportunities) in July 2014. A further study was completed by Stuart Lester and Wendy Russell that re-engaged with stakeholders that looked back at what had happened since submission of the Play Sufficiency Assessments and forward to the commencement of the second part of the Duty. This was published in June 2014 as Towards Securing Sufficient Play Opportunities: A short study into the preparation undertaken for the commencement of the second part of the Welsh Government’s Play Sufficiency Duty to secure sufficient play opportunities. The report is available here.