2017 National Awards for Play in Scotland

Award Entries Now Open (Closing date Friday 19th May 2017)


Could you be a Nancy Ovens Trust Award winner? Our awards celebrate and encourage those providing stimulating and innovative play experiences for children. Winning an award is a great achievement and shows that you have raised the bar to make play an outstanding experience for children in your home, project or community.

Award Categories

The awards recognise the innovation in play in communities around Scotland. Individuals and community groups can now apply for awards in play at nursery and school, in the home, in the community and for positive support for play. The criteria for each category are described below:-

Before entering please download and read the Nancy Ovens Awards for Play Guidelines 2017

Play in the Home

Children’s play in home environments starts at birth and continues throughout their lives as they grow and develop.

We are keen to receive applications in this category that are examples of creative, innovative or best practice in play around home settings. This may be with families themselves, childminders, family support initiatives or anything that is “home” based or focused.

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Play at Nursery or School

Nursery into school (including Early Years Centres), play a key part of children’s lives and have a major impact on their development. Our National Play Strategy identifies that all learning environments, including nurseries and schools, need “free play”.

We encourage all educational settings or services who celebrate play to apply in this category. Examples may include outdoor work that is breaking new ground, a particular story about a piece of work or development of a play facility.

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Play in the Community

We are aware of much of the excellent work around play that goes on in local communities, through community groups and projects, including out of school care provision, holiday clubs, play Rangering and community run facilities.

We particularly want to hear from local organisations and community groups (formal or not) who feel that they have a great story that illustrates the values of our Trust and delivers and/or supports creative or innovative approaches to play in their community.

Enter here

Positive Support for Play

For our play practice to continue to develop and thrive we need a creative and supportive environment to work within. We know that there are individuals, organisations and establishments that are preparing the next generation of Playworkers and are inspiring us all to stretch ourselves further and to be truly innovative.

We would like to receive applications in this category that make a real impact across our sector and continue to lead the way for us all.

Enter here

Qualification Details?


Here’s a quick guide to our main criteria for entrants.

Involvement by Children/Young People:

  • Children and young people are actively involved as partners with adults in the design of their play experience. We want to see that children are at the heart of projects and part of the ongoing involvement in the management of the play space.

The Physical Environment:

  • The physical environment is clearly recognisable as a space to play and invites children to explore and gain new and different experiences.

The Play Experience:

  • Children and young people have freedom to play and develop a positive sense of self.

Access to the Play Space:

  • Every child has access to the play space and the opportunity to be involved in the decision making process in the design and delivery of the project.

When assessing Awards the Trustees will consider:


  • Accessibility for children’s use, appropriate to their age or stage of development
  • Conditions which allow play as defined by the UN Committee (see above) to take place
  • Whether the environment invites children to explore new and different experiences
  • Inclusion of materials which offer possibilities for creating or changing things
  • Opportunities to play with natural elements and objects
  • Opportunities for children to develop resilience by experiencing challenge and risk in their play
  • Opportunities for social skills, such as leadership, negotiation and self-control, through interaction with other children
  • Opportunities for play which contribute to children’s health and well being
  • Opportunities to inspire and challenge children and young people by offering both simple and complex choices
  • Whether there is a sense of “freedom to play”
  • If the facility offers positive support to children at risk of exclusion
  • Opportunities for children and/or young people to participate as partners with adults in the planning of the play experience or play space
  • Opportunities for children and/or young people’s participation in the ongoing management or development of the play experience or play space
  • The adults’ roles in enhancing the play experience of the children and young people
  • Community participation and involvement
  • Projects which do not deliver face to face work or play facilities can be considered under Positive Support for Play

How to Apply:


Online Applications Only:

  • Download and read the guidelines showing what is required
  • Click on the enter button in the category you are entering
  • Closing date Friday 19th May 2017.
  • Photographs or other evidence of the project in action should accompany the application.
  • Thereafter, further information may be requested from you if you are successful in reaching the short list stage.

Key Dates:


  • Award entries can be made from Monday 20th March
  • Closing date for entries Friday 19th May 2017
  • The awards for 2017 will be made in Autumn 2017 – date tbc
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