Ahead of a Holyrood debate promoting the importance of play, local MSP Ruth Maguire visited St Luke’s Primary School in Kilwinning to see the primary school’s committed play culture first hand.

Ruth was shown around the children’s rich and varied ‘junkyard garden’ play area by nursery pupil, Fin, before joining the Primary One class for a puddle splash in the playground.

Play Scotland, a group which works to promote Scotland’s Play Charter and the importance of play for all children, also attended the visit, using the opportunity to launch their new leaflet resource highlighting opportunities for free outdoor play, such as splashing in puddles and skimming stones.

The Play Charter describes a collective commitment to play for all babies, children and young people in Scotland, in line with the right of children to play as set in out in Article 31 of the UN Convention on the Rights of the Child (UNCRC), and Play Scotland encourage as many people and organisations as possible to pledge their support to and become Play Champions.

Commenting after the visit, Ruth said:

‘I am hugely grateful to the children and teachers at St Luke’s primary for welcoming me to their school and sharing their play culture.

Seeing the children playing, and speaking to St Luke’s headteacher, Fiona Mackenzie, it was clear that the school are committed Play Champions. The children’s ‘junkyard garden’ area was made entirely through their own creativity and ideas, and the children delighted in showing me all of its different aspects – from the den to the abacus.

Play is one of the most important means by which children learn and develop. It supports learning, language and social development, and enhances creativity. It also overlaps with the nurture agenda, supporting children to develop healthy and supportive relationships and attachments, making them feel valued by others and confident in themselves, and teaching them how to communicate constructively and positively. In all of this, it is about equipping them with the emotional and mental resilience to deal with the challenges of life – and these are skills for life.’

Fiona MacKenzie, headteacher at St Luke’s, said:

‘Play is an essential part of a child’s development. Here at St Luke’s we encourage play from Early Years through to Primary 7. Play gives children time to explore their creativity and develop their imagination, while nurturing each developmental stage. Play is important to healthy brain development and growth mind set and builds resilience, providing skills for life.’

Marguerite Hunter Blair, Chief Executive at Play Scotland, added:

‘It was wonderful to see how much hard work the children and staff at St Luke’s have put in to making sure there is a wide range of outdoor play and fun to be had in the playground and nearby spaces.

Planning for play at St Luke’s includes the full age range of children and young people, and from the squeals of delight and happy sounds from the playground it was clear that there is a high satisfaction level with the range of play opportunities created. St Lukes  is clearly a ‘Committed to Play’ school!’