PlayBoard NI


Building the capacity of youth workers in youth centres to facilitate play for their younger members.

  • Free training, resources, and support to help youth workers across Northern Ireland better meet play needs in their setting

  • Playwork training accredited by OCN NI

  • Developed in collaboration with, and supported by, the Education Authority.


The pilot Youth@Play programme clearly identified the need for playwork training, and its potential impact in raising the play offer in the participating youth settings. Youth work qualifications have typically focused on the 13+ age group so this programme sets out to enhance opportunities to develop additional knowledge towards a better understanding of playwork and play-based approaches. The Education Authority (EA) are investing in this programme, recognising that focused playwork training and support will help meet the needs of the growing number of younger members attending youth settings.

Following the success of the Youth@Play pilot, this current delivery funded by EA, will run from May 2022 to March 2023. Full and part-time workers and volunteers in both the statutory and voluntary sector across all council areas in Northern Ireland will have the opportunity to be involved.

The Youth@Play team in PlayBoard have developed, tested, and will deliver the OCN NI endorsed Playwork in a Youth Work Setting to youth workers across the youth sector – at Level 2 for part-time workers and volunteers, and at Level 3 for full-time staff.

The training will give youth workers the capacity to better meet the play needs of members – particularly the younger ones.

If you would like further information on the programme download the flyer

Or contact the Youth@Play team on 028 9080 3380 or email, or




Better understanding of play and increased recognition of its importance in the youth setting


Embedding playwork approaches to enhance delivery of the youthwork curriculum


Enriched play environment and improved play offer for the children and young people attending the youth setting


Increased enjoyment and opportunities for children and young people to interact


Enhanced relationships between youth workers and children and young people.

Training – Playwork In A Youth Work Setting

  • Playful, practical and interactive training sessions

  • Level 3 for full-time staff – approximately 30 hours

  • Level 2 for part-time staff and volunteers – approximately 20 hours

  • Delivered online or face to face on request

  • Bespoke training also available

  • The training explores: play, playwork, and its relationship with youth work; the impact on, and importance of play for children and young people; the elements of a play-enriched youth setting, how to support it, and the role of the adult

  • Assessment includes a small number of directed assessment tasks including the setting up, facilitating, and review of play in the youth setting.

Engaging With Children And Young People

Play is essential for children and young people’s physical health and mental well-being, and for their all-round development.

70% of youth setting attendees are aged up to 13 years*. The Youth@Play project is built on the recognition that play is the most effective way of engaging with these younger members in youth settings.

Project participants will gain a better understanding of play and play-based approaches and explore practical ways to make play happen in their setting. Our focused training programme will enable youth workers to better meet the play needs of the growing number of younger members attending youth settings.

Youth settings offer a great opportunity for young people to have their play needs met. Young people need to play and youth workers can play a big part in making that happen!

* A Statistical and Geographic Report of the EA Registered Youth Service, 2018.


Project Reach


OCN NI Level 1

OCN NI Level 1 playwork training to 85 senior members within youth work settings


OCN NI Level 2

OCN NI Level 2 playwork training to over 55 volunteer and part-time youth work staff


OCN NI Level 3

OCN NI Level 3 playwork training to 45 youth work staff


Play Training

Play training to 98 youth workers, supporting play-based delivery over the summer months


Play Audits

Play audits in 32 youth work settings, providing guidance on the enhancement of settings to better support play-based approaches


Youth Workers Feedback

“The programme gave me opportunities to meet youth workers from different clubs and create a better network of resources. It has also given us all great examples of how we can integrate play within our centres when working with the development of young people, and how important play can be to a child.”

“Having participated in the programme I understand how crucial it is to have play intertwined into the daily routine of children and young people. It contributes to their social, emotional and physical development. I can use playwork methods as a process of engagement that can assist change in the lives of the children and young people I work alongside.”

“Taking part has allowed me to come out of my comfort zone and helped me to understand how to engage with young people.”

100% of junior leaders who completed the Level 1 training agreed or strongly agreed that play was important, with 96% agreeing or strongly agreeing that play needs to be child-led.

Contact Us

To avail of this training for yourself or your youth setting, get in touch now.