tQK8Bsy-Edward Timpson, Minister of State for Children and Families has highlighted the important role play has in supporting all young children to develop and prepare for later learning. The comment came in response to a written parliamentary question submitted by Andrew Stephenson MP, with support from deafblind charity, Sense.

Mr. Timpson also welcomed the charity’s Case for Play report and its Inquiry into the provision of play opportunities for children aged 0-5 with multiple needs, in England and Wales.

Mr Stephenson asked the Secretary of State for Education, what assessment she had made of the adequacy of provision of play opportunities for children with disabilities and complex needs.

Answer given by Edward Timpson:

Play has an important role in supporting all young children to develop and prepare for later learning. The importance of play is recognised in the Early Years Foundation Stage framework [1], which states: “Each area of learning and development must be implemented through planned, purposeful play and through a mix of adult-led and child-initiated activity. Play is essential for children’s development, building their confidence as they learn to explore, to think about problems, and relate to others. Children learn by leading their own play, and by taking part in play which is guided by adults.

Early Years educators and Early Years teachers are required to have an understanding of different pedagogical approaches, including the role of play in supporting early learning and development. It is for individual schools and settings to provide opportunities for play for their children and pupils, including those with special educational needs.

We welcome the report published by Sense and their continuing efforts to support deafblind children and young people.

Deputy Chief Executive of Sense, Richard Kramer said: “We are pleased that the Minister values the importance of play for early development and welcomes our efforts to help lift the lid on the barriers preventing children with multiple needs from enjoying play activities.”

About the Case for Play Inquiry:

Former Secretary of State for Education and Employment, David Blunkett, is chairing the inquiry, alongside Lesley Rogers, a parent of a deafblind child with multiple needs.

The evidence submitted to the inquiry will form the basis of a report setting out recommendations for national and local government and organisations that provide play opportunities.

The Inquiry will focus on answering the following questions:

  • What is the impact of play for children with multiple needs and their families?
  • Do barriers exist to young children with multiple needs accessing play settings and activities?
  • What can be done to increase play opportunities for young children with multiple needs?