Skip to main content

How to keep staff, children and young people safe whilst attending open access playwork provision such as a playschemes.

First published:
6 August 2020
Last updated:

Who should use this guidance

This guidance applies at all 4 alert levels. Please see Coronavirus Control Plan: Alert Levels in Wales and guidance on all alert levels for further information

This guidance must be read in conjunction with the protective measures for childcare settings guidance which provides further information which all childcare and playwork settings need to consider.

The references to childminders and nannies are not relevant. You can also refer to the youth work services guidance.


This guidance for Open Access Playwork provision provides additional context to be used alongside the childcare guidance.

Settings will need to consider how they will ensure continuity of provision within the framework of local restrictions or change of alert level.

Open Access Playwork Provision

In statutory guidance, Wales: a Play Friendly Country staffed Open Access Playwork provision is defined as permanent or short term provision, located in a variety of settings with or without premises.

Whilst the term Open Access applies to registered provision for children under 12 years, such provision usually caters for a wide age range of children, including those over 12 years. The purpose of the provision is to provide staffed play opportunities for children in the absence of their parents. Children are not restricted in their movements when attending Open Access Playwork provision, other than where related to safety matters and are not prevented from coming and going as and when they wish. Children have the freedom of choice as to what range of play activity they wish to undertake and with whom they play.

COVID-19 however, has placed general restrictions on children of all ages and adults, and this should be borne in mind. Children over the age of 11 must adhere to the same requirements as adults in respect of wearing face coverings when required, and maintaining physical distance. Children of all ages must self-isolate if required to do so.

The measures set out in this guidance should be considered alongside the requirements contained within the National Minimum Standards for Regulated Childcare.

Risk assessment for COVID-19

All provisions must carry out a risk assessment which should directly address risks associated with coronavirus to enable sensible measures to be put in place to control those risks. This risk assessment must be regularly reviewed. In addition, individual workplace assessments should be undertaken for members of staff who may be at increased risk or extremely vulnerable. Further details on risk assessments and workplace assessments can be found in the Risk Assessment section of the protective measures for childcare settings guidance.

Risk-Benefit Assessment

For children’s activities, the process recommended by the Health and Safety Executive is to carry out a Risk Benefit Assessment. Risk/benefit assessments are complementary to the overall risk assessments and workplace assessments discussed in the Risk assessment for COVID-19 section of this guidance.

A written assessment should be carried out for all areas where children play, including (but not limited to) playgrounds and playground equipment, taking coronavirus into account. Written assessments should also be carried out for planned activities that include a significant element of risk (eg use of tools, high temperatures, significant fall heights). A risk benefit assessment should consider the benefits of the activity, alongside the risks. It is also worth training staff in dynamic risk benefit assessment. Children are creative in their play and not all play can be planned for. Staff can manage this through dynamic risk benefit assessment – using their knowledge and professional judgement to respond appropriately to unplanned activities.

Professionals also need to make sure that there are sufficient staff with first aid qualifications and food hygiene certificates, where applicable and that procedures are in place for lone working, lifting and handling and working at height.

Professionals working with children have a duty of care to the children they are working with. The duty of care affects the decisions they make about staff ratios and supervision requirements. For non-registered Open Access Playwork provision, staff ratios will need to be reviewed. Risk Benefit Assessments should also highlight other key areas that need supervision. This should include consideration in terms of managing numbers, such as gates and entrances, which should be supervised. Providers must also refer to the Prevention: minimising contacts section of protective measures for childcare setting guidance.

For further advice on playwork risk benefit assessments contact Play Wales, the children’s charity for play.

Notify Care Inspectorate Wales 

If registered, providers should use their CIW online account to notify CIW when they reopen or if there are any confirmed cases of coronavirus amongst children and staff using the service. 

Use of outdoor space

Children should spend as much time outdoors as possible as this can limit transmission and more easily allow for distance between the groups.

For information on organised activities for children which includes staffed playwork provision and what is permissible at each alert level, refer to the guidance on leaving your home and seeing other people.