A CRITICAL EVALUATION OF THE IMPLEMENTATION OF A LOCAL AUTHORITY’S PLAY STRATEGY AND RISK MANAGEMENT SYSTEM
Cardiff Metropolitan University
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Background: Play is essential for children’s well-being, happiness and development. However, the freedom for outdoor play is declining, there are many factors that have contributed to this, but a major barrier is the current risk-averse, compensation culture in society today. It is essential for play providers to address the barriers to play, and allow children to take risks, while adhering to health and safety legislations with the use of risk management systems. Purpose: This two-scope study aims to evaluate the effectiveness of the implementation of Conwy County Borough Council’s play strategy and risk management system, and attempts to identify parents’ perception of risk. Research design: A mixed methods approach was used in the collection of data. A qualitative approach was used with the use of interviews, and a mixed methods approach with the use of closed and open questions in a questionnaire. Method: Two semi-structured interviews were conducted; one with the individual that developed Conwy’s play strategy and risk management system, and another with a play worker that had worked for Conwy for a period of 6 weeks. Questionnaires were also completed (n=21) by parents from a range of towns and villages in Conwy. Results: The findings of the questionnaire show that parents are more risk-averse than ever, and emphasise 'stranger danger'. The play strategy and risk management system are being implemented effectively; with training being given to staff on how to provide effective play provision. A shortfall to holiday provision of play was highlighted, with a high staff turnover resulting in the risk management system losing the essential feedback cycle.
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