Playworkers organise, plan and take part in play and leisure activities for children. They also care for and supervise the children, making sure that they are safe and happy. They often work in before and after school clubs.
They are sometimes also called a play assistant, crèche worker or play carer.
You could be:
developing, planning and organising play activities for children aged three to five or for schoolchildren aged up to sixteen years of age
using play activities to help children to develop socially and emotionally
setting up play equipment and making sure play areas are safe
supervising children for fair behaviour during play, dealing with any minor injuries
liaising with parents or carers
preparing snacks for the children
taking children on day trips or other outings or organising nature walks in parks
keeping records and controlling petty cash
dropping off and picking children up from local schools (if you work in out-of-school care).
The figures below are only a guide. Actual pay rates may vary, depending on:
where you work
the company or organisation you work for
the demand for the job.
Starting salaries for playworkers are usually between £8.50 and £11.00 an hour. Senior staff can earn up to £13.00 an hour or more.
The work is usually indoors but may on occasion be outdoors.
You might work in a wide range of settings including: community centres, hospital playgroups parks or adventure playgrounds, playbuses, holiday play schemes and other types of children’s clubs or youth clubs.
You might work full time, but part time work is very common.
Working hours typically start at 7.30am and finish at 6.00pm. Hours may be concentrated in the evening after school, or during the school holidays.
School breakfast clubs run from 8.00am until 9.00am and after-school clubs run from 3.00pm until 6.00pm. You would cover both these shifts.
The most relevant qualification is the Scottish Vocational Qualification (SVQ) in Playwork at SCQF Level 6 and 7.
You may need to have 3 to 5 subjects at National 4 or 5 including English, and be at least 17 years old, for entry to some courses.
You could start through a Modern Apprenticeship. This can lead to the SVQ in Social Services (Children and Young People) at SCQF Level 6 or 7. For entry you may need to have at least 3 subjects at National 4 or 5 including English.
Completing a Foundation Apprenticeship in Social Services (Children and Young People) whilst at school may increase your chances of getting accepted on an HNC or into a Modern Apprenticeship.
Relevant experience, for example as a playgroup volunteer, is useful and sometimes required. If you are in a suitable job you can do relevant SVQs on a part time basis.
First aid training is also useful.
By law, all playworkers must register with the Scottish Social Services Council (SSSC).
You will require a satisfactory criminal record check from Disclosure Scotland to show that you are suitable for this type of work. Contact Disclosure Scotland for details on the type you would need.
able to get on well with children, their parents and carers
adaptable and creative
aware of health and safety issues
firm and decisive, particularly when working with teenagers.
You should also have:
a real interest in developing children through play
good communication skills
a sense of fun
the ability to motivate children.
Playworkers working in playwork settings which provide care in the absence of parents must be registered with the Scottish Social Service Council (SSSC) and working towards SSSC endorsed qualifications.
With further experience and training, you can move on to become a senior playworker, a supervisor, manager or development worker.
Studying for the SVQ in Playwork at SCQF Level 9 qualifies you as a Playworker Professional.
If you want to become a manager in a day care centre for children you will need to have a BA Hons degree in Childhood Practice. The SSSC website has more details.
You might even decide to set up your own nursery or playgroup.