Play plan is nanny state, say Tories

17th February 2006 at 00:00
The Assembly government launched its national play action plan this week - to Tory claims of promoting the nanny state.

But the strategy has been welcomed by children's charities delighted with its broad scope and insistence on including children in planning arrangements.

The Assembly government has been a pioneer in the UK for devising strategies for play. The action plan says it is committed to fostering high-quality "compensatory play provision".

It wants to see "staffed adventure play" to compensate for lost open space, and a "common idea of what good play facilities look like", with children involved in planning and designing. Work with practitioners, communities and children to develop mandatory standards is under way.

Next year the Assembly will provide new guidance to local authorities on community provision and on what constitutes "quality play opportunities".

The plan acknowledges the difficulties for providers of meeting children's need for adventure in a compensation culture. The Assembly will ask central government to review the impact of no-win no-fee actions on play. It is also to revise regulations for childminding and daycare so that risk assessment is balanced against the benefits of play.

In schools, teaching and non-teaching staff should understand types of play, behaviour, needs, and how to intervene, says the Assembly government.

From September 2007, it will support the development of training resources.

Marianne Mannello, development officer for Play Wales, the national organisation for children's play, said: "We're delighted with this strategy, particularly its broad scope. There's been nothing like this direction and commitment in my lifetime.

"Including children in the building guidance is crucial. Until now there has been no statutory requirement to do that." But Assembly member Mark Isherwood, the Welsh Conservatives' spokesman on children's issues, said:

"The minister says Wales was the first country to recognise that play is vital to a child's development. What planet is she on?

"Every parent and every child in every generation in Wales to date has understood this simple fact.

"Telling children how, when and where to play is the ultimate expression of Labour's nanny state."

children's agenda 29

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