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New Protocol between Ofsted and Local Authorities (for providing information, advice and training), March 2004

Ofsted has published a series of 'protocols', describing the arrangements between it and other bodies involved in organisation of Early Years. The new protocol between Ofsted and local authorities makes clear the distinctive roles they have and the Local Authority's responsibility for support, advice, information and training. There seems still to be a lot of confusion about this, but section 2.2.3 of the protocol specifies that Local Authorities are expected to:

  • provide training for providers and pre-registration briefings and disseminate information on the registration process, national standards, and other requirements
  • send Ofsted a schedule of dates for forthcoming pre-registration briefing sessions.

The full text is available at: http://www.ofsted.gov.uk/publications/index.cfm?

Practice Examples

  • Discovering Discover, the new play centre in Stratford, November 2003.
  • Making space for play in the countryside, how can we develop play opportunities in rural areas, Chris Snell finds out at the Spinney in Lincolnshire, November 2003.
  • Play on the Range, a new service in Cambridge is reaching children in their neighbourhoods. Chris Snell finds out how the City Council adapted to provide a more flexible play service, September 2003.
  • Playing out on the Street, last summer Leeds Play Network piloted a bold new initiative, June 2003.
  • No Policy but Plenty of Pizza, Bedford has a range of fixed equipment playgrounds and skate parks that other local authorities would die for. But, insists Steve Tomlin from the Borough Council, that is not because they have a huge capital budget, June 2003.

Consulting with Young Children, DfES research, July 2003

The Department for Education and Skills has published research by Alison Clark, Susan McQuail and Peter Moss of the Thomas Coram Research Unit, on Exploring the Field of Listening to and Consulting with Young Children. The Briefing was published in June 2003, as issue briefing RR445 and is available on the DfES website, by searching for RR445.

Problems with Ofsted?

Sandra Melville, PLAYLINK Director, is a member of the newly reconstituted National Consultative Forum. This is the group which advises Ofsted on how the regulatory system for under 8s daycare is working and the impact it is having on providers. Her remit is particularly to represent the position of play service providers with a focus on open access provision. The Ofsted response to points she raised at the last NCF meeting will shortly be posted on this site.

Please let her know of any problems you have encountered with registration or inspection. These could either be dealt with as individual cases to be resolved by the Early Years Directorate at Ofsted or raised as a general question at the next NCF meeting in January 2004. Contact by sandra@playlink.org.uk.

Developing Accessible Play Space

The Government has produced a good practice guide on developing accessible play spaces. The guide is available free from the Office of the Deputy Prime Minister. It aims to help tackle the unfairness that currently exists by helping play space providers understand the issues that disabled children and their families face when using play spaces. It also contains good practice examples of how to improve existing space as well as issues to consider when creating new ones.

Open for Play

Open for Play is a PLAYLINK publication designed to help both playproviders and Ofsted inspectors exploit the opportunities offered by the National Daycare Standards to support the development of play provision in line with the recognised values of play and playwork.

Promoting Positive Outcomes

A report on the impact of OFSTED registration on play and open access provision written using evidence from the PLAYLINK Open Access Registration Support Project funded by The Sure Start Unit, Department for Education & Skills and The Department for Work & Pensions. Written for, and in conjunction with, PLAYLINK by Bernard Spiegal, May 2003.


  • Insurance - a result, a new joint Statement by the Association of British Insurers and the British Insurance Brokers Association sets out the levels of service policyholders should expect, September 2003.
  • Write it Down - Insurance, a new scheme to provide cover specifically for adventure playgrounds, playing fields and fixed equipment playgrounds, June 2003.
  • Research into Insurance Cover for the VCS in England. The Home Office's Insurance Cover Working Group has published research into the problems faced by voluntary and community sector groups getting insurance, June 2003.
  • Insurance Surveys, note from Stephen Bourne, ACU, Home Office.

Best Value Performance Indicator for Play

The Best Value Performance Indicator for Play was drafted by PLAYLINK, Inspire and the Children's Play Council in conjunction with the Audit Commission. It is intended to help make sure that Play does not loose out in local authority policy making.


professionals4free is a new website aimed at putting Voluntary and community groups in touch with professionals who can provide help for free. It is backed by NCVO and has already helped a number of play organisations. For further information about how professionals4free could help your play project please see http://www.professionals4free.org.uk/case_study_list.php.

Glowing reports

The Glowing reports website gives information and tips for Charities producing annual reports. Further information is available at: http://www.glowingreports.org.uk/.

Making Sense: playwork in practice

Making Sense is designed to help playground staff and management to develop skills and knowledge in order to sustain a high quality play service. It describes a series of everyday play experienes that have occurred in staffed play settings.

Best Play: what play provision should do for children

Best Play is the result of a partnership between the National Playing Fields Association, PLAYLINK and the Children's Play Council. It is about how children benefit from play opportunities and how play services and spaces can provide these benefits. You can view Best Play,

Boy skateboarding

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