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I learned a new acronym on a very, very wet Friday morning in October. I was invited, as a trustee of MASKK, to sit in on a training session for playworkers at Temple Park Centre, and I joined ten students, who are aiming for a Agored Cymru Level 2 Certificate Playwork: Principles into Practice. The energetic, cheerful tutor was Julia Sexton, a trustee at Pitsmoor Adventure Playground and a Senior Lecturer at Sheffield Hallam University.

Why SLLRRRP? Well, if you’re working with children in a play setting, you need to constantly monitor what’s going on. If the play is too safe, it’s boring and the children are not getting the imaginative stimulus they need; but if it’s too uncontrolled, it can become dangerous. The worker must keep doing an assessment of the benefit over against the risk of the activity. S = STOP, L = LOOK, L = LISTEN, R = REFLECT, R = REACT, R = REFLECT (again), P = PRACTICE. The final P means the worker must adapt their practice in the light of what they have observed, done and thought in the real situation.

As a practical example of working in a situation where there could be both benefit and risk, Emma showed the students how to make tin can stoves: hammers and nails had to be used to punch holes in the cans, and candles provided the heat inside. They learned that fire is exciting and stimulating for children, but it must be introduced with great care, minimising the risk.

There are fifteen students on the course, but some hadn’t been able to make it that morning. Those who were there were obviously enjoying it, finding it stimulating and fun. Some were volunteer workers at MASKK, but there were others from Wybourn Kids Club, Highfield Adventure Playground and Sheffield City Trust –. Maisie, who has a recent academic background, said she had enjoyed the experience of being like a child with physical materials. Alicia said the course had opened her eyes to lots of things, but she would have liked even more hands-on stuff!

It’s really important that MASKK and Pitsmoor can put on this kind of training, because there’s currently a big gap in playwork training opportunities, and the government is planning more wraparound childcare in 2024: from September there is a national ambition to make wraparound childcare available after school for each primary school child who needs it.

It was good to see the students really SLLRRRPing up their training under Julia’s expert guidance: they’ll be the brilliant playworkers of tomorrow.

Nick Jowett

For more information about wraparound childcare visiting