Children's right to play
Children have a
right to play, and it’s Play England’s role to promote that
This section sets out the international framework for children’s
rights that supports the UK’s national legislation and
You may find these useful in thinking about the policy context
for children’s play and the impact this can have on other aspects
of their lives.
You can also find information about how local groups and
organisations can become involved in campaigning for the right to
play, including the Charter for Children’s Play and
The UN Convention on Children’s Rights
The United Nations Convention on the Rights of the
Child, adopted by the United Nations in 1989, spells out the basic
human rights to which every child, everywhere, is
The United Kingdom has been bound by the Convention since
The Convention sets out in a number of statements, called
articles, the rights of all children and young people up to the age
of 18. This includes Article 31, the right to engage in play and
1. State Parties recognise the right of the child to rest and
leisure, to engage in play and recreational activities appropriate
to the age of the child and to participate freely in cultural life
and the arts.
2. State Parties shall respect and promote the right of the
child to participate fully in cultural and artistic life and shall
encourage the provision of appropriate and equal opportunities for
cultural, artistic, recreational and leisure activity.
The expression ‘State Parties’ means those states or countries
that are party to the convention.
In addition, there are several other articles that
support the right to play:
Article 2: Non-discrimination
Respect, ensure and take appropriate measures to protect the rights
of each child without discrimination of any kind towards the child
or their parents.
Article 3: Best interests of the child
In all actions concerning children, the best interests of the child
shall be a primary consideration. Child protection and care is
necessary for children’s well-being and, taking into account the
rights and duties of parents and carers, institutions, services and
facilities responsible for children shall conform to relevant care
and safety standards.
Article 12: Respect for the views of the child
A child who is capable of forming his or her own views has the
right to express those views freely in all matters affecting the
child, the views of the child being given due weight in accordance
with age and maturity.
Article 15: The child’s right to freedom of association and
Children have the right to freedom of association and to freedom of
peaceful assembly, within conformity of the law and with regard to
the protection of the rights and freedoms of others.
Article 19: The child’s right to be protected from harm and
Appropriate protective measures should be in place to protect
children from physical or mental harm and abuse whist in the care
of parents, guardians or any other person who has care of
Article 23: Rights of disabled children
A mentally or physically disabled child should enjoy a full and
decent life, in conditions which ensure dignity, promote
self-reliance and facilitate the child's active participation in
the community. This includes additional care and assistance where
appropriate, free of charge whenever possible.
Article 30: Children of minorities or of indigenous people
The right for children from minority communities to enjoy their own
culture, and to practice their own religion and language.
Charter for Children’s Play
Play England’s Charter for Children’s Play sets
out the basic principles of what play means for children, and what
we should do to support their right to enjoy it.
There are eight charter statements that describe children’s
right to play in detail:
- children have the right to play
- every child needs time and space to play
- adults should let children play
- children should be able to play freely in their local
- children value and benefit from staffed play provision
- children’s play is enriched by skilled playworkers
- children need time and space to play at school
- children sometimes need extra support to enjoy their right to
A range of materials is available from Play England to promote
the charter, including a children’s version, a poster illustrating
the charter statements and the Making it Happen
Making it Happen suggests ways for organisations and
individuals to use the charter to improve opportunities for
Playday is the annual celebration of children's right to
play, and is traditionally held on the first Wednesday of
On Playday and throughout the summer, thousands of children,
young people and communities get out to play at hundreds of locally
organised events across the UK. As well as a celebration of
children's right to play, Playday is also a campaign that raises
awareness about some serious issues affecting children's play. It
is a great channel to get attention to your local play causes.
The Playday website is full of information and advice for people
who are organising a Playday event, including community groups. The
Get organised guide has information on every aspect of
coordinating a Playday event, including fundraising, planning,
media and how to work in partnership with your community.
For more information, visit the website link on