Aim: Underpinned by the United Nations Convention on the Rights of the Child (UNCRC), this research aimed to explore children’s views around accessing their Article 31 right to play in two schools in England and Wales and to promote their Article 12 right to be heard.
Methods: Views of sixteen children were sought using child-centred methods. Child-led tours involved being guided by children to explore play opportunities within school. Focus group activities and discussion explored views about different aspects of play. Aggregated data were scrutinised using thematic analysis.
Findings: The children had clear ideas about the purpose of their environments and play activity in different parts of their schools. Children often used the nature of the activity, space and constraint, and positive affect to classify and define play. Views were mixed across both schools on the perceived importance of playing, though tentative findings suggest that some classifications of ‘play’ and ‘not play’ were more blurred in the Welsh school.
Limitations: The research was exploratory and small-scale. School practice may not be indicative of practice nationally.
Conclusion: Children’s perceptions of play access in school may be influenced by the wider systemic contexts. Implications for educational psychologists (EPs) are discussed.