Rich Play Award

The Rich Play Award – Playwork Quality Assurance for Schools and Childcare

(please scroll down for childcare settings)


What is The Rich Play Award?

The Rich Play Award, which has been achieved by numerous schools in Conwy and the whole of North Wales, offers your school the chance to improve the play experiences of your pupils. Schools signing up to the award will receive training for teachers, lunchtime supervisors and after school club workers and parents, workshops for pupils, play sessions and a tailor made play policy. All of this is completely free as the Play Development Team is fully funded by Families First.

IMG_5228What are the Benefits?

The award aims to improve children’s playtime in school by providing ‘loose parts’ (junk such as cardboard boxes and material) for the children to use as they wish during break and lunch times. The effects of children having a rich play experience can and have been; less challenging behaviour during break and lunchtimes, better concentration in class, children being more physically active and offering development opportunities for social, mental and physical competencies.

What do we have to do?

The school will need to commit to achieving the award. The award is tailored to the school and thus works with you to find practical ways of achieving the award. Some examples of work we can do are: teaching staff, lunchtime supervisors and after school club workers attending a half day introduction to play training session (this can be accredited if the school wishes). If there is demand amongst parents a training course can also be run for them. The school council or years 5 and 6 can attend a half day workshop on the UNCRC and their Right to Play; they could then be given the opportunity to feedback to rest of the school. Loose parts play sessions can be run at lunchtime with trained playworkers to support staff; it is hoped that staff would then continue this practice on their own. Support can be given to find storage for loose parts. We would hope that as a result of the work the governors would formally adopt the school’s play policy.

How do we get involved?

For more information or to sign up to the award contact Gareth Stacey from The Play Development Team on 01492 523 857 or playdevelopment@cvsc.org.uk


Ysgol Glan Gele said of the Rich Play Award:

“When children are engaged in play, the vast majority of the time it is child led; therefore the children are doing what they want. This results in high levels of engagement, enthusiasm and concentration. It is often hard to tear children away from what they are doing! Having the opportunity to play with others allows children to develop their social skills, and learn to negotiate with others. This in turn impacts on behavior positively; negative behaviour often happens due to boredom or not being challenged. If children are allowed to engage in their own play and decide on their own activities, both boredom and challenge are non-existent. Allowing children a break from focused tasks in school for respite through play gives them a chance to refocus and come back to the work at a later time refreshed and often invigorated from what they have been doing.”

Ysgol Llandulas said of the Rich Play Award: 

“Just wanted to thank you one again for all the massive help and support you’ve given us with the Play Award. The whole process has had a massive benefit for all the staff involved and most importantly really inspires and captured the imagination of the children – all of those outside at lunchtimes and the children you’ve worked with ! It’s really helped us to start to develop pupil voice, and we really appreciate all that you’ve done for the school.”


If you are interested in the Rich Play Award we recommend watching this video of a similar project in Bristol.

(we are not affiliated with Bristol ScrapStore, however this is a similar project. This video is from Bristol Scrap Store Play Pods and all credits are to them)

Primary School: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=nqi1KyJJeKg


Childcare Settings

After school clubs, play schemes, childminders, early years.

Both the Conwy Play Development Team and the Early Years Development and Childcare Partnership (EYDCP) want to encourage childcare providers in Conwy to explore their current environment, their adult led provision and their practice to develop their service to meet the needs of children and for them, where possible, to enhance and extend children’s opportunities to play. Thus, Conwy Play Development Team have commissioned The Rich Play Award Quality Assurance Toolkit that is informal, easy to read and easy to understand so that practitioners can assess their level of quality in relation to play and childcare.

D80_0239What is this Quality Assurance Scheme about?

This Quality Assurance Scheme is designed to promote and assure playwork quality in your Out of School Childcare provision. It does this by encouraging you to think carefully about what you do and why you do it. It aims to ensure that the play needs of every child are met as fully as possible. It will encourage you to do five things:

  1. To look critically at the quality of the service you provide.
  2. To compare your practice with what is known about playwork best practice.
  3. To identify any changes that you could make to ensure that you are delivering best practice
  4. To make plans to improve the quality of your play provision
  5. To make the necessary changes that you identify (without the support of a mentor)

What does it mean to you?

Once your setting has been through this Quality Assurance Scheme that has been commissioned and endorsed by Conwy Play Development Team and the EYDCP, you will be able to show parents that you are committed to delivering a high quality service that supports children’s play behaviours. This in turn will enable parents to make a more informed choice when deciding with whom they wish to entrust the care and play needs of their child.

Participation in this Quality Assurance Scheme will mean free support for your organisation, as well as mentoring for staff to support their continuous professional development.

The ultimate benefit of your participation will clearly be the development of higher quality play opportunities for the children themselves who will be happier and healthier.

D80_0124What support will you get?

If you decide to undertake the Rich Play Award you will be assigned a mentor.

Your mentor’s role is as a ‘critical friend’: they will give you support in making sure you achieve all the criteria in the self assessment. They will challenge you to improve your practice in areas that need some work whilst recognising the areas you are already excelling in.

In order to complete the Rich Play Award you and your staff team will probably need to attend playwork training.

All training is free, some of it is accredited and all of it is fun and informal!

You may also need to create some new policies or change existing ones, you mentor can help you with this.

As you improve your playwork practice you will probably want to improve your play space by introducing new resources. Again your mentor can help you to source loose parts and provide advice on creating rich play environments.

D80_0166How much will it cost?

The good news is The Rich Play Award is free!

Unlike most quality assurance schemes you dont have to pay a fee.

All the training associated with the Rich Play Award is free as well although you may need to think about paying for cover to enable staff to attend training.

As a result of attending training you may wish to buy resources or make changes to your play space. However you do not need to do this to achieve your award and all resources suggested by your mentor will be no or low cost.


If you are interested in the Rich Play Award we recommend watching this video of a similar project in Bristol.

(we are not affiliated with Bristol ScrapStore, however this is a similar project. This video is from Bristol Scrap Store Play Pods and all credits are to them)

Primary School: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=nqi1KyJJeKg

Early Years: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=laFA9QqPP14

How do we get involved?

For more information or to sign up to the award contact Gemma Halliday from Early Years and Childcare Development Partnership on 01492 577868.

More Info

Rich Play Award – Childcare Info Sheet: RPA Info sheets

For more information on the importance of play and playwork visit: http://www.playwales.org.uk/eng/informationsheets

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