The Play Charter for London Play
1 Children need to play
Children have a natural inclination to play. It is essential to the healthy
mental, physical, emotional and social development of every child. While the
needs of older children and teenagers are different from those of young
children they are no less important.
2 Children need freedom to play
Play takes place when children and young people get to decide what to do and
who to do it with, when they negotiate their own rules and boundaries, and
their imaginations are allowed free rein. It is not performed for any external
goal or reward. In supervised provision, trained playworkers have an important
role in supporting children to create and explore their own play experiences.
3 Children need space to play
While children can and do play indoors, it is essential that children have
easy access to outdoor space for spontaneous physical activity. Every child
should have places to play close to home. General community spaces, such as
streets or the spaces between buildings, are as important as dedicated play
4 Children need time to play
Children should have the chance to play everyday, when they are not being told
what to do, who to do it with, or where to go.
5 Children must feel safe and welcome where they play
Communities must make safe, welcoming, accessible provision for all children
to play, no matter what their age, physical or mental abilities, personal
circumstances or cultural background. Children and young people who are
different from the majority have a right to play in the same places as other
children, should they want to.
6 Children are the best authorities on play
Children know what they enjoy and what makes them happy. Playgrounds or other
spaces and facilities that will be used for play, including school grounds,
will be more successful if children and young people are meaningfully involved
in their design and in decisions affecting them.
7 Play is everyone’s responsibility
The ability for children to play freely outside is a sign of a healthy vibrant
community. While children do not need adults to tell them how to play,
parents, communities and government do have a duty to ensure that children
have the chance to play everyday.
The right of all children to have time, space and opportunity to play is
defined in Article 31 of the UN Convention on the Rights of the Child, which
the UK ratified in 1991.
The Play Charter is supported by
Association of Teachers and Lecturers
Children’s Play Council
Learning Through Landscapes
Mayor of London
National Children’s Bureau
National Youth Agency
Rich Learning Opportunities
*An A2 full colour Play Charter poster is available from
and Children Now