Excellence In The Early Years Through Creative Play

At this event we will explore how creative play including the expressive arts can support child development and look at how we can make creative play available for all children both in early years settings and at home.

The context

Recent years have seen increasing interest in learning through play in the early years. As this interest has developed practitioners and researchers across the world are exploring imaginative ways to provide new learning opportunities for very young children that will help them develop. Research shows that creative play can improve confidence, self-esteem, personal, social, emotional development and behavioural health, break down language barriers, cultural prejudices or societal differences, and lead to decreased social problems, reduced inequality and increased creativity.

The Care Inspectorate has seen first-hand the benefits of providing a range of creative experiences in the early years and are amending their inspection approach to give the early years workforce the flexibility and space to provide these experiences. They are also producing a range of resources to support early years practitioners to make creative play opportunities available to all children in Scotland.

The event

Holyrood is delighted to be working with the Care Inspectorate on this event which will highlight their latest resources for supporting creative early years practice. We will focus on the expressive arts and outdoors play, considering the research behind these approaches and showing how all early years practitioners can utilise minimal resources to make creative play a reality for all. This will include looking at how we can work with families to make opportunities available not just in an early years setting but also in children's homes.

Key issues to be addressed

  • The evidence showing how creative play can improve child development – and how the latest child development research can inform play
  • Bringing the expressive arts into an early years setting with minimal resources
  • Creative play outside
  • Engaging and educating parents about creative play


09:15    Registration and Networking

09:55 Session 1: Creative Learning In The Early Years

In this opening session we will discuss the importance of providing creative learning experiences in the early years, focusing on outdoors play and the expressive arts. 

09:55    Opening Remarks from the Chair

Tom Freeman, Journalist, Holyrood magazine

10:00    Opening Doors To New Worlds: How The Care Inspectorate Is Supporting Creative Play

  • Our Creative Journey – sharing good practice in expressive arts
  • How the new resource works alongside ‘My World Outdoors’
  • What the Care Inspectorate expects from care services

Henry Mathias, Strategic Lead, National Care Standards Review​, Care Inspectorate

10:20    Creative Play

  • Why creative play and the expressive arts matter
  • Child led play and the expressive arts
  • If the expressive arts matter, why aren’t we providing more opportunities for it?
  • Overcoming the barriers and letting the kids loose! 

Marguerite Hunter Blair, Chief Executive, Play Scotland

10:40    The Impact And Implications Of Child Development Research On Performing Arts For The Very Young 

Dr Ben Fletcher-Watson, Administrative Manager, Institute for Advanced Studies in the Humanities, University of Edinburgh

11:00    Questions and Discussion

11:15    Refreshments and Networking

11:30 Session 2: Making Space For Creativity To Happen!

There are innovative approaches to enabling creative play that are taking place across Scotland. This session will look at just a few and discuss how you can adapt these and build similar opportunities into your own early years practice.

11:30    Expressive Arts And The Outdoors

  • Real world learning: why expressing arts outdoors?
  • Loose parts play – linking indoors and out through low cost everyday objects
  • Managing risk

Juliet Robertson, Founder, Lead Consultant and Trainer, Creative STAR Learning

11:50    The Creative Early Years Practitioner

  • Why we need to be creative, flexible and confident
  • Linking the creative practitioner to national and international policies
  • Opportunities for you to enhance your creative approach to the early years
  • Creativity on the frontline: case studies to inspire and learn from

Heather Armstrong, Creative Skills Manager, Starcatchers 

12:30    Questions and Discussion

12:45    Lunch and Networking

13:30 Session 3: Ensuring Creative Play Is Available To All

Sadly inequality of opportunity exists in creative play as much as in other aspects of society. In this final session we will consider how early years workers can work with families to make creative play available for all children.

13:30    Opening Imaginary Playworlds – Unlocking the Limitless Possibilities of Children Through Adult-led Child-centred Play!

  • ‘All you need to play is yourself!’ Secure frameworks for indoor and outdoor play, which nurture confidence, friendships and creativity. LicketyPlay – a repertoire of group games, rhymes, songs, street and imaginary play to foster a child-centred inclusive culture where all can flourish.
  • The importance of ‘fairness’ – how to engage equally to enable every child through shared play.
  • ‘Shared’ Intergenerational play – eating, talking and playing together – building resilience.
  • If we get it right for early years children it will be right for everyone!

Virginia Radcliffe, Artistic Director/Chief Executive, Licketyspit

13:50     How the Peep Learning Together Programme supports work with families to enrich the home learning environment​

  • The Peep Learning Together Programme supporting creative play at home
  • The evidence base on improving the home learning environment
  • Practical play ideas that support home learning

Denise Millan, Qualifications Co-ordinator, Peep Learning Together Programme

Carly Glover, Policy Officer, Peep Learning Together Programme

14:10    Childminders Empowering With Vulnerable Families Through Creative Play

Maggie Simpson, Chief Executive, Scottish Childminding Association​

Yvonne Hanley, Childminder

14:30    Questions and Discussion

14:45    Close of Event

*Agenda subject to change


The Law Society, Atria One, 144 Morrison St, Edinburgh EH3 8EX | Map


Delegate Rates (excluding VAT)

  • Discounted rate: £145 (Voluntary / charitable organisations with an annual income of less than £1m)
  • Reduced rate: 1 place £245 | 2+ places £195 (Central government departments and agencies, local authorities, universities, colleges, NHS, police, professional associations and voluntary / charitable organisations with an annual income over £1m)
  • Full rate: 1 place £295 | 2+ places £245 (Commercial organisations e.g. plc, Ltd, LLP)

For more information please email enquiries@holyrood.com or phone 0131 285 1635

25 October 2017
Central Edinburgh
United Kingdom



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