Commission on play launched


A ‘landmark enquiry’ into children’s play in the UK has been launched with the aim of putting children at the heart of post-election government policy

Over the next 12 months the Raising the Nation Play Commission will seek testimony from leading experts in children’s play and wellbeing, as well as from parents, children and young people across the country, to produce a report making recommendations for post-election government policy.

The Commission is being advised by leading law firm Hogan Lovells, which has announced its intention to work with the Commission to help it identify whether an effective and enforceable right to play exists in law in England & Wales, and help the Commission identify opportunities to provide protections for play.

The United Nations Convention on the Rights of the Child (UNCRC) was ratified by the UK in 1991 but has never been directly incorporated into domestic law. Working with Hogan Lovells, the Play Commission will seek to establish the extent to which current law across the UK upholds the UNCRC, and where it fails to do so.

Launching the Commission today, Paul demands politicians put children at the heart of their election promises and announces it will explore obstacles to play such as ‘No Ball Games’ signs in residential areas and reduced breaktimes in the school day. The Commission will also consider whether families should have the right to sue housing developers and local authorities which construct housing without including adequate play facilities. Paul also argues that social media “risks hijacking our children’s imaginations”, and that with the UK on track for a children’s obesity and mental health crisis, it’s high time to think seriously about how to promote outdoor play.

The Commission will investigate the policies and attitudes which lie behind increasing barriers to both the space and time available for children to play in the UK. For instance, almost 800 playgrounds have been closed over the last 10 years. Meanwhile secondary school pupils have lost over an hour per week of school break time between 1995 and 2019.

The impact of social media on children’s play will also be examined. While children play together online, the Commission will consider whether time spent on social media is coming at the expense of free or unstructured play, and explore how it can be used to enhance positive “real life” play experiences.

The Commission will be chaired by Paul Lindley OBE, founder of organic baby food brand Ella’s Kitchen, with former Children’s Commissioner Anne Longfield CBE, who leads the Centre for Young Lives, advising. Additionally, fifteen commissioners with a wealth of experience in relevant disciplines have already been appointed to guide the Commission’s work, with more appointments to be made. Youth advisers have also been appointed to ensure lived experiences and young perspectives form an integral part of the Commission’s final report.

Paul launches this work following the publication last year of his book on childhood and children’s policy – Raising the Nation.

Commenting on the launch of the Commission, Paul Lindley said:

“Play is vital for our children’s development, education and mental health. The best investment we can make for the UK’s future is in our children’s wellbeing, and in this election campaign it’s time our politicians put them first. 

“Everyone I spoke to when writing Raising the Nation was clear that we need to do more for children. Play is at the centre of happy childhoods. The decisions adults make can have a huge impact on how easy or difficult it is to play, where and when it’s possible, and even put up new barriers to play. With the help of our commissioners, legal experts, and young advisers, we will spell out what is stopping children playing today and make policy proposals for the future.”

Anne Longfield said:

“Paul is an established expert on children’s wellbeing and we are delighted that the Play Commission will be one of the first major projects of the Centre for Young Lives. We look forward to working with Paul, experts, parents, and children on developing an ambitious and creative play strategy for the next Government to implement.” 

The Commission is calling for individuals and organisations with professional expertise or lived experience to share their knowledge and views by submitting evidence. For more details on the key areas that they are investigating click here.

The call for evidence opens from June 11th and closes on 30th September 2024.

If you would like to make a submission please send a word document setting out your evidence and recommendations to Please use the email subject title ‘Call for Evidence – Play Commission submission’.

London Play Press Releases
Hundreds of children from across the capital converged in joyful noisy chaos on Parliament Square in Westminster yesterday to mark the first ever International Day of Play.
London Play Press Releases
London Play is calling on the next Mayor of London to make the capital the best city in the world to grow up in, by ensuring every child has the space, time, and freedom to play outside, near to where they live.


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