PlayBoard NI - Policy And Research

Policy & Research

Policy & Research2020-02-04T12:22:46+00:00


PlayBoard actively engage in a wide range of activities aimed at influencing government policy to better respond to the issues that impact on children and young people’s play. Through our policy work we aim to put play firmly on the agenda of policy makers and resource providers at regional and local government level.

PlayBoard’s policy and advocacy work is focused around a number of key areas:

PlayBoard’s policy and advocacy work is focused around a number of key areas:

Partnership working is a key aspect of our work within the policy arena. As members of key policy forums at Northern Ireland and UK level, some concerned specifically with play and some with wider children and young people’s issues, we are able to raise awareness of the child’s right to play and to place play and playwork on the agenda of other organisations.

  • Play Policy Forum (UK level)

  • Play Safety Forum (UK Level)

  • All Party Children and Young People Group

  • CiNI policy sub-group

  • Child Poverty Alliance

  • Early Years Strategic Alliance

Through membership of such forums we benefit from other organisations’ perspectives on policy development, using these insights to inform our policy responses, guide how we participate in the policy development process and how we influence decision-making relating to the right to play.


Research shows that play has many benefits for children, families and the wider community, as well as improving health and quality of life. PlayBoard undertakes research and evaluation to inform, shape and influence practice and policy for children and families in Northern Ireland. Our work focuses on growing an evidence base for play and establishing best practice, we do this by:

  • Developing and promoting research to provide an evidence base to improve children and young people’s lives through knowledge and understanding about play;

  • Measuring and evaluating the impact of our programmes as a whole, and supporting our membership organisations to refine and develop interventions and evaluate their impact;

  • Demonstrating the difference our services make to children and young people’s lives;

  • Supporting organisations to refine promising programmes and developing processes to help ensure that evidence-based programmes are delivered as intended, with fidelity to what makes them effective.

Our work focuses on generating the data and evidence that decision-makers need in order to make informed decisions that will improve children’s outcomes. Alongside this an ethos of reflective practice underpins and informs a culture of stakeholder engagement in using and learning from evidence.

Participation with Children and Young People

PlayBoard’s research activity also focuses on the importance of play through children’s participation in decision making and involving children in the research process and children’s right-based research methods.

“All people, however young are entitled to be participants in their own lives, to influence what happens to them, to be involved in creating their own environments, to exercise choices and to have their views respected and valued” (Lansdown 2005).

Participation is the process by which children and young people can influence decision-making which affects their lives to bring about positive change. Playboard supports children and young people to become strong, competent, social actors so that they can effectively participate in decisions that affect them, have their voices heard, valued and respected.

We fundamentally believe that it is important for children and young people to have a say in the making of laws and policies, in designing and evaluating services and facilities that will affect them. We have developed and trained a group of children and young people to become peer researchers who have effectively conducted their own research in relation to their right to play (General Comment 17, UNCRC). We have also actively consulted with children to have their say on a number of policy strategies such as Towards a Childcare Strategy and The Children and Young People’s Strategy.

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Latest Policy & Research News:

2706, 2022

PlayBoard announces Alan Herron as new CEO

June 27th, 2022|Advocacy, Communities, Councils, Research, School Age Childcare, Schools, Young People|

Alan Herron succeeds Jacqueline O’Loughlin as Chief Executive of PlayBoard NI on 27 June, following her retirement. Alan has served as PlayBoard’s Director of Service Delivery and Development since 2009 and has more than 20 years’ experience working in the [...]

2306, 2022

PlayBoard CEO retires after 18 years leading organisation

June 23rd, 2022|Advocacy, Communities, Councils, Research, School Age Childcare, Schools, Young People|

Following 25 years working for the child’s right to play and 18 years leading PlayBoard, Chief Executive Jacqueline O’Loughlin is stepping down on 23 June. Patricia Lewsley-Mooney CBE, PlayBoard Chairperson commented: “Jacqueline has been a wonderful advocate for children and [...]

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PlayBoard share expertise in Athens

May 19th, 2022|Communities, Events, Research, School Age Childcare, Young People|

Play on Early Education, the second International Athens Conference ran from 27 to 30 April. Staff from PlayBoard attended the conference, representing Northern Ireland on the international stage. Alan Herron, Director of Service Delivery & Development, presented on children’s play [...]

504, 2022

The Play Pod – PlayBoard’s new podcast

April 5th, 2022|Communities, Councils, OUR Generation, Play Services, Play Your Part, Research, School Age Childcare, Schools, TOPS, Young People, Youth@Play|

We are delighted to share our new podcast - The Play Pod. Listen now on PodBean at or find us on Apple Podcasts and Google Podcasts. Episode 5 - Koulla Yiasouma, NI Commissioner for Children and Young People (NICCY) [...]

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