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Expert Witness

» Click on title for a free download of publications and/or information sheets

Play and Planning/Enviroment

Is My Neighbourhood Suitable for Children?

A checklist for parent's to use to assess their neighbourhood.  Parents are constantly blamed for their "cotton wool kids" but it's the modern environment that stops children playing out, running errands and going to nearby friends.

Traffic and Children's Play

A study demonstrating how children's transport (walking/cycling) has been misunderstood and ignored with damaging consequences for children's play.  Recommendations are made to rectify this.

Most Play Strategies are Wrong

This paper was given to the International Play Association triennial conference in Cardiff in July 2011. It explains why children’s play strategies should be based on the freedom of children to play out rather than the number of play facilities which are provided. A ground-breaking paper.

Click here to view the paper (PDF file - opens in new window)


Child’s Play: Facilitating play on housing estates

(with Dr Alison Millward) (1997) (reprint 98) pub. CIH & JRF
Observational and consultation research at 12 different housing estates. It explores where children play out and where they do not and how important their transport (mostly walking) is to their opportunities for play.  It gives recommendations for the design of housing estates.

Click here to view the paper (PDF file - opens in new window)

Half an Acre for Every Child

How we can give back to children the space to play they had for generations.

Playing Out - Under 5's

Under 5's should be able to play out in front of their own house.

Why girls and boys stay in to play

Originally an article in The Guardian in 1992.  It demonstrates the early conclusion that we need an environment fit for children to play rather than concentrate solely on facilities.

Play in Equipped or Natural Playgrounds

Domestic Play Equipment in Housing Areas

Is this equipment evidence of good community involvement or is it a hazard which has to be removed? This document gives guidance for housing managers and play inspectors.

Overhead Ladders (Monkey Bars) - Suggestions for reducing risk

Monkey bars are the highest risk items on playgrounds.  They are, however, very popular with children and give good upper body exercise.  Rather than banning them, as has been suggested, Rob Wheway makes positive suggestions for reducing the risk.

Inspections - Information Sheet

Advises managers of fixed equipment playgrounds on the inspection regime that is recommended in BS EN 1176.

Playground Spares Info Sheet

Please click on the title above to view this info sheet.

Talking about Play (inc. natural play)

Report of research of children’s views carried out in 1982 but still very relevant.  Was enthusiastically reviewed in IPA journal by Robin Moore at the time.

Grass and Impact Absorbing Surfaces in Children’s Playgrounds

Explains how to save money by using grass and how to test for suitability. It also counters misleading advice given by influential persons who do not understand the limitations of grass.

Slides - Accidents and Utility

This advisory document is based on research into accidents which havehappened on slides where the clothing material worn by the children was a major contributing factor to the accidents.  It makes recommendations for changes in the Standard for playground equipment.

Urban Myths about Children’s Playgrounds

Children’s play opportunities are being limited because of fears based on myths rather than facts.  Rob Wheway, one of the country’s leading play consultants, explodes some of these myths.

Fallen Trees as Climbing Structures

(2009), pub. London Play.
This was written in conjunction with George Richardson and Alan Sutton.  It is a practical guide for people using fallen trees on “natural” playgrounds.

Sand and Other Loose Fill Surfaces

These can be used in children’s playgrounds.

Gates and Fences in Playgrounds

Are not always necessary.  Money can be saved.

Playground Insurance and Inspections – Don’t waste your money

Some local authorities are unnecessarily having two annual inspections.

Poor playground inspection reports leading to wasteful expenditure

Annual inspections should be a tool to increase efficiency and effectiveness.

Play in Supervised Places

Inspecting Your Adventure Playground - Draft for Consultation

Gives guidance on how to carry out visual and operational inspections of your adventure playground. It uses simple yet robust systems to assist playworkers and their managers to have good inspection regimes.

Play and Volunteer Directory 1980

Details a document which has a comprehensive list of playwork places at a time when Government  encouraged both adventure playgrounds and holiday playschemes.

Adventure Playgrounds and Standards (Keeping the Adventure)

Gives advice on using guidance and Standards to reduce the risk without reducing the adventure and also as a way of challenging restrictive advice given by those without an understanding of adventure playgrounds.

Fire as a Play Activity

Fires are permitted in supervised play such as adventure playgrounds.

Playground Equipment in Schools

Advice to schools who are planning to install playground equipment or who are having “Health and Safety” problems with their existing playground.

Play, Society, Inclusion

Covid-19 - Cobra forgets children

Publication notes that Cobra completely forgets about children's largest waking hours activity, ie play.  It makes practical suggestions for an exit strategy which would also benefit children's play opportunities as the lock-down eases.

Manifesto 2015 - Much for Little

Political Parties promise to spend money on services and facilities.  They ignore the massive improvements which could be made for free. Ideas that a new government and contenders for leadership of 2 other main parties should be considering.

Creating the “Big Society”

A critique of current approaches and advocating an environment for play which will help to create an environment for the “Big Society”. An edited version of this article appeared on the Guardian Public Leaders and Voluntary Sector Network sites.

Click here to view the publication (PDF file)

Click here to view the article (External link - Guardian)

Olympic Legacy – Not Fit for Purpose

Explains why those involved with the Olympics don’t understand how children play out and how ordinary people get regular exercise. The result is that there is no legacy of increased fitness within the population as a whole.

Can Play Will Play – Disabled children and access to outdoor playgrounds

(with Alison John) (2004), pub. NPFA.

This is based on observations of children using playgrounds and interviews with children and parents. It gives common-sense recommendations for reasonable improvements to playgrounds.  It found that social barriers are bigger than generally realised and makes recommendations to overcome them.

NOT a risk averse society

This is based on decades of involvement in health and safety issues concerned with children’s play. It finds that we are not living in a risk averse society but that many of the problems of health and safety can be resolved with different management approaches.

N.B. 'NOT a risk averse society' publication is being revised at present - for further information contact Rob Wheway at 07973 150019

Asbos or Mediation

Young people hanging out in public spaces are seen as a threat.  Mediation is suggested as an alternative.

Couch Prisoners?  Childhood Obesity and Play

Obesity is not a disease it is caused by a poor environment in which children cannot play out.

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