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, 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 disabilities and complex educational needs.
In addition, the Equality Act 2010 prohibits discrimination against disabled children in their access to goods, facilities and services, which could include ‘play’. For example it would be unlawful to refuse or inhibit a disabled child’s access to a local playground; their enrolment at a local nursery or playgroup; or their taking part in any other play activities such as local sports. Where applicable, the Act requires service providers to make both requested and anticipatory ‘reasonable adjustments’ that will facilitate the participation of disabled children in all forms of ‘play’.