Mobile Playwork Education and Training Project (MPETP)
The Project Overview
What we do and what we don’t do
What the project brings is the opportunity for playwork teams to engage in discussion around play and playwork. This is unique in that the project goes directly to the setting and works exclusively to support the team of playworkers. We recognise that this may be a cause of some anxiety for some settings who may be unsure about how it all works.
It is important to stress that we do not visit in order to inspect the provision or practice: we visit to build on the good practice already evident and to offer the team the opportunity to reflect on that practice and identify areas for potential improvement.
The role of the playworker involves constantly seeking to be better in the work that we do. The competent playworker is someone who is constantly open (reflective) to development in their thinking, knowledge and practice. By having this level of professionalism, we hope to be able to provide children and young people with better opportunities for their play.
The project began in February 2008, initially for the first year solely in the county of Hampshire. In the second year West Sussex came on board and currently the project operates across those two counties. The project has now visited hundreds of clubs, engaging playwork teams and reaching thousands of children from the Dorset/Hampshire border right over to beyond Gatwick Airport.
The aims of the project are to inspire, motivate and enthuse playworkers in the work that they are doing. The project serves as a support mechanism to further develop thinking around current theory and practice in the playwork field. For some settings there may be familiarities, for others the concepts will be new.
It is very much hoped, by the process of the project’s visit, that playworkers will be inspired to expand their skills and further their own continuous professional development. This could be done by carrying out research such as reading or through enrolment onto further training opportunities, and also by participation in further future visits from the project.
We recognise that by becoming more skilled, knowledgeable and ultimately qualified, playworkers can provide greater quality play environments where children can experience better play opportunities.
The playwork menu outlines some of the current thinking and theory that relates to the work of the playworker. Again, settings may be familiar with some of the concepts; for others this will be a new way of looking at the role of the adult (playworker) in children’s play spaces.
It is important to mention that playwork thinking and research is constantly evolving and the menu has to be revised regularly to keep pace with changes in thinking and also legislation.
Once initial contact has been established with a setting, a copy of the menu will either be sent out through the post or the setting will be signposted to an electronic version via the Mobile Playwork and Education Training Projects website. www.mpetp.org.uk
Settings are invited to peruse the playwork menu and select a specific area for the MPETP team to come and observe on. Currently, the menu has five distinct areas to choose from (see the menu for more details) although a more bespoke service can be delivered.
When the project team visit we work in teams of two playworkers. One member of the project team will go into the setting and work alongside the setting’s own playworkers. The other member of the project team will stay on the vehicle and offer what we term as a ‘manager’s briefing’.
We recognise that the term observation can seem daunting to some; however, playworkers in their practice use observation of children’s play as a tool for building up information to inform their thinking and practice.
The member of the project team who goes into the setting will carry out an informal observation while engaged in face to face playwork with the children and whilst working alongside the playwork team.
The member of the project team who remains on the vehicle invites senior members of the team or organisation on board the vehicle during the play session. By senior members we mean people working in a management capacity. So this could be managers and co-ordinators, but it could also mean head teachers and teaching staff, members of the community and parent/carers of children.
During this time there is the opportunity to discuss and explore anything related to play and playwork and thus to further the possibilities for children’s play opportunities at the setting and in the locality.
Feedback takes place at the conclusion of the play session. Members of the setting’s playwork team are invited to stay on board for an additional hour to receive the feedback observed from the play session.
The feedback process is very much informal and positive, and seeks to gain participation and engagement from the whole playwork team. The team are encouraged to share their thoughts and feelings about their settings whilst exploring their practice within current theoretical concepts and thinking.