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In Depth

West London Zone: the cradle to career neighbourhood project

The West London Zone offers targeted support to children and young people inspired by a similar project in Harlem, New York. Emily Rogers went to find out more and observe the scheme in action.

Special Report: Early Childhood Development

Policymakers and practitioners are boosting support for families in the most disadvantaged areas to help pre-school children develop the skills they need to thrive and reduce the attainment gap.

Boosting attainment in reception

Education experts answer Ofsted criticism of the quality of education for disadvantaged young pupils.

Special Report: Play and Play Work

Play secured a funding spurt and national strategy a decade ago, but austerity put paid to much of its ambition. Yet new initiatives and spaces for children to play are vital to social and emotional wellbeing.

International Focus: Redesigned natural playgrounds in Berlin

There are nearly 2,000 public playgrounds in Berlin, a city of four million inhabitants, of which about 500,000 are aged under 18. Statistically, this is a high ratio, but sheer quantity is not what sets Berlin apart.

States of play: how the UK nations approach children's play

National Playday highlights the importance of play in children's lives across the UK. As the event approaches, Emily Rogers examines how the sector is faring amid budget cuts and other challenges.

Key steps that will improve play services for disabled children

A charity has devised a blueprint for improved access to good quality play provision for disabled children under five through more national funding, investing in childcare providers' facilities, making play a statutory service and enforcing equalities law.

A space to play

Play services were dealt a setback with the demise of the national play strategy. Gabriella Jozwiak joins one area that is celebrating play and the positive impact it can have on children, families and communities

Good Practice

Cambridge Day Nursery

City-centre nursery prioritises outdoor play, with the garden a seamless part of the setting.

Naomi House and Jacksplace hospices: the outstanding play team making every day count

Play and playfulness is central to the work of Naomi House and Jacksplace hospices for children and young people. Charlotte Goddard went to meet their award-winning play team to find out more.

Scrapstore PlayPods

Charity Children's Scrapstore provides schools with safe waste materials as alternative play equipment.


Theraplay involves therapists guiding the parent and child through playful, fun games and developmentally challenging activities.

The Land

Wasteland-based "junk playground" on Wrexham's Plas Madoc estate has made headlines for the freedom it gives children to engage in challenging play.

Hackney Play Streets

Hackney Council-funded Play Streets project has involved 40 streets being closed for play since September 2012.

Playwork qualification reforms

Withdrawal of playwork qualifications is the latest episode in the dismantling of a sector, says expert.

How family bond is improved by play project

Play initiative helps to improve social skills for five- to 15-year-olds and build better relationships between the children and their parents.

How children thrive on natural play

Kilburn Grange Adventure Playground offers stimulating play opportunities to children and young people.



How Does Video Interaction Guidance Contribute to Infant and Parental Mental Health and Well-Being?

Video interaction guidance (VIG) uses video to help parents become more attuned and responsive to their child's communication.

The Effects of Mother-Infant Singing on Emotional Closeness, Affect, Anxiety And Stress Hormones

This article provides evidence on the psychobiological impact of "infant-directed singing" on mothers.

An Educational Intervention to Promote Healthy Lifestyles in Preschool Children: A Cluster-RCT

This study looks at the health benefits that an obesity prevention intervention programme can have for preschool children, and the role play can have as a key form of physical activity for young children.

The Play Return: A Review of the Wider Impact of Play Initiatives

The focus of this report is on children of school age, and on free play that takes place outdoors. It looks at quantitative evidence of the wider outcomes and impact of play.

Play Worth Remembering: Are Playgrounds Too Safe?

This study aimed to gauge the quality of today's playgrounds in comparison to the play spaces that survey respondents favoured as children.

Residential Street Design and Play: A Literature Review of Policy, Guidance and Research on Residential Street Design and its Influence on Children's Independent Outdoor Activity

This review studies the extent to which residential street design can provide an environment that encourages children's outdoor activity.