Quality Play

What are the Quality Standards for play provision?

Quality standards are intended to give you an opportunity to measure the quality of your own play services. They may also be used by external agencies to assess your provision.

The standards have been devised in line with Every Child Matters, Best Play and the Playwork Principles.


The key themes within these standards are:

  • Health (emotional and physical)
  • Safety (emotional and physical)
  • Enjoyment and achievement
  • Making a positive contribution
  • Economically viable
  • Led by children
  • Leadership

To view the Quality Standards for Play Provision Framework that incorporates the key themes above click here; Quality Standards for Play Provision Framework

How are the Quality Standards set out?

The standards have been divided into sections under the themes listed above. Underneath each theme, there are a number of linked quality standards, each with levels of 0 – 4. These levels are the measure against which you assess the practice of your setting.

What do the levels mean?

  • Level 0 means that this is an area of play practice that your service has not paid any attention to or it is demonstrating poor practice
  • Level 1 means that you have just started developing the area of play practice related to this standard
  • Level 2 means that your provision is demonstrating a basic quality of play practice related to this standard
  • Level 3 means that your provision is demonstrating a good quality of play practice related to this standard
  • Level 4 means that your provision is demonstrating an excellent quality of play practice related to this standard.

How would we use the standards?

The standards should be used to measure the quality of the play practice operating in your service. Assessment can be done by a one person, or a group. Levels should be compared by at least one other person so an appropriate consensus is agreed on the level reached.

Self Assessments

If you wish to carry out a self-assessment, you should look at the standards to see which one most reflects your current level of play practice.

Stage 1: Initial Self-Assessment

Each of the self-assessment sheets has a main heading e.g. Be Healthy: Emotional Health. Underneath each sheet there are a number of standards e.g. ‘we provide opportunity for children to explore their own identity and the identity of others’. Alongside each standard there is a ‘level’ box.

Using the guidance document to help you – Quality Standards Framework Guidance, record which level you are operating at. You should choose the one that most closely describes how you the think the provision is operating at this time. Your first thought is probably the correct one.

Give examples of evidence to explain your choice of rating in the box marked ‘Examples’ e.g. to explain why you think that the play workers listen to children talk about themselves, you may give examples like the following one: -: We play a game where we choose a topic then the children pass round a hat to music. When the music stops, the child with the hat puts it on and tells the rest of the group something about that topic.

To view the guidance for the Quality Standards for Play Provision Framework with examples click here; Quality Standards for Play Provision Framework with Examples

The standards are designed to presume that if, for instance, you reach level 3, which indicates good play work practice, you will either be building on levels 1 and 2 or your practice began at a higher level.

It would not be expected that many provisions would reach level 4 on their first assessment. Level 4 suggests a high degree of sophistication in play work practice, likely to be achieved by play workers who are very experienced and knowledgeable about play and playwork.

To view Quality Standards for Play Provision Framework – Self Assessment click here;

After completing the self-assessment, look at your scores and where necessary work out what to do to improve your service. You can re-assess yourselves at appropriate intervals to see what progress has been made.

Stage 2: Action

After completing the Self-Assessment Sheets, you should decide what achievable and helpful actions should be planned in order to improve your practice and help you reach the next level.

Identify these actions in the Action column – If you wish to devise a detailed action plan, the please do so by:

  • Choose three to six main areas for improvement for the next 6 months. These should be the ones with the lowest score or those areas that seem the most important at the time
  • Create an action plan that will help you to achieve a higher score within a realistic time frame
  • Repeat on a regular basis, say six monthly, to ensure that your standards are improving and / or that you are maintaining high standards
  • If you are being externally assessed, your mentor will help you devise an action plan when they visit you

Score Summary Sheet

Use this sheet if you want to have your scores for each standard at a glance. This will make if easier for you to see which areas you are strong in and which areas need improving.

Simply fill in your level for each standard in the level column and add them all up to get a total at the bottom. The maximum score available is 104.

To view a scoring summary sheet for the above click here; Example Score Summary Sheet

External Assessment

If you wish to use this tool as evidence of the quality of your play provision, you will require an external assessment.

You would still complete stage 1 as described above and would then need to contact us to discuss the process.