Playful communities Examples in Wales Gypsy and Traveller site playgroup Shirenewton playgroup in Cardiff opened in February 2006 and has since developed into valued childcare provision, providing play opportunities for two to four year olds on a Gypsy and Traveller site. The importance of play within this community is very high, and the support that families can access through the provision is extremely valuable in meeting the needs of this vulnerable ethnic minority. Having quality early years experiences supports children to settle in new environments. This provides support for the transition into school, allowing the children to understand the social ‘rules’ when outside of the family unit and to form relationships with their peers and new adults. The playgroup provides opportunities for the children to enjoy challenging experiences, investigating and discovering for themselves thus becoming independent learners. The setting helps children to build confidence and self-esteem; the play is personally directed and the children are encouraged to participate in a range of activities that are intrinsically motivated. The children attending are encouraged to take part and develop an interest for learning. Due to the nature of the homes of Gypsy and Travellers storage space is limited and families are not always able to provide a wide range of resources to support children’s play. Being able to access quality early years provision has a huge benefit for the children. The development of an outdoor area for the playgroup has been hugely beneficial – members of staff have observed the positive effect it has on the children’s behaviour at the setting. The new opportunities for learning and increased physical play have greatly reduced the display of negative behaviour, especially in the boys. A muddy kitchen, builder’s yard and friendly space (den) form part of the outdoor area on a regular basis. Construction and small world resources, as well as paint, glue and materials are also on offer both in the outdoor and indoor environments. Children are encouraged to be active learners through their play, with support from the staff. Qualified, passionate and enthusiastic professionals are employed and are essential to ensure quality provision is provided in the setting. Members of staff understand the need to be nurturing and supportive of each child’s needs. Each session is evaluated and staff are encouraged to be reflective about their own practice and are supported in their professional development.