Playwork practitioners’ perceptions of the impact on play of austerity in the UK: Comparing experiences in Scotland and SW England

John H. McKendrick*, Chris Martin

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

3 Citations (Scopus)


This paper compares playworkers’ perception of the extent to which Austerity has changed playworkers’ working environment, children's opportunities to play and the context within which play takes place in Scotland and SW England, regions which are understood to have divergent experiences in recent years. 351 playworkers completed a bespoke survey, comprising 33 questions, for which a variety of distributions modes were used and the result of which was a survey population that was broadly representative of respondents to the last major national survey of playworkers in Great Britain. Two themes emerge. First, in many ways, the experience of play in 2013 differed between playwork practitioners in Scotland and SW England. Statistically significant differences were found for most of the organisational issues, half of the regional issues, and both of the indicators of overall satisfaction. In each instance where a difference was observed, conditions in 2013 had worsened more in SW England than in Scotland. Thus, it is problematic to portray a ‘global’ experience of play in the UK and the existing ancedotal and case study evidence contrasting the fortunes of play in England and Scotland in 2013 are acknowledged by, and find expression through, playwork practitioners’ reflections on their work. Second, and on the other hand, in SW England, the more strongly negative experience of government (both national and local) in relation to play in 2013 and the negative perception of wider play and playwork trends in the SW region contrast sharply with positive experiences of play and playwork in the workplace. It is also argued that the divergent understandings of play in SW England are suggestive of the merit of research that pursue holistic appraisals of playwork.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)252-265
Number of pages14
JournalInternational Journal of Play
Issue number3
Publication statusPublished - 18 Nov 2015


  • UK
  • austerity
  • geographies of play
  • play
  • playwork
  • survey


Dive into the research topics of 'Playwork practitioners’ perceptions of the impact on play of austerity in the UK: Comparing experiences in Scotland and SW England'. Together they form a unique fingerprint.

Cite this