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The UK’s Children’s Play Policy Forum is calling for all UK political parties to invest in children’s play because of the proven benefits to children, families and communities.

’Four asks for play’ calls on the UK Government to:

1. Recognise the need for play before school, during play/break times and after school hours

2. Extend the existing Department of Health-funded programme supporting regular sessional road closures in residential streets in England to every major city in the UK

3. Invest in a programme focusing on disadvantaged communities to encourage appropriate play in public space, while reducing neighbourhood conflict and the resulting pressure on police time

4. Provide support for staffed play provision to test innovative community-based health and well-being initiatives.

Investing in the ‘Four asks for play’ will result in improvements in children’s health and wellbeing, the Children’s Play Policy Forum says, and hence a reduction in the pressures on the National Health Service and the public purse.

Studies show that the long-term health benefits of playing include boosting physical activity levels which helps to tackle child obesity, and supporting children to become more resilient. Play initiatives also benefit the wider community by encouraging neighbourliness and improved community cohesion.*

Robin Sutcliffe, Chair of the Children’s Play Policy Forum said:

‘We know that playing provides immediate and long-term benefits to children, young people and the wider community. We all have a responsibility to ensure children have opportunities to play in their communities. We are calling on all political parties to provide for play initiatives across the UK – the level of investment needed would be relatively modest yet extremely cost-effective.’

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Notes for editors
For more information or if you have any media queries please contact:

Play England/UK – Carmen de Silva: This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it. / 07775 830740
Play Wales – Angharad Wyn Jones: This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it. / 029 2048 6050
PlayBoard Northern Ireland – Lisa O’Connor: This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it. / 028 90803380
Play Scotland – Sharon McCluskie: This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it. / 131 440 9070

The ‘Four asks – for play, for health, for children, for everyone’ is also available at:
About the Children’s Play Policy Forum

The Children’s Play Policy Forum promotes the importance of children’s play and argues for high-quality, inclusive play provision. It works with devolved, national and local government; and the voluntary, public and private sectors throughout the United Kingdom.
The Forum is a cross-sector grouping of leading organisations with an interest in children’s play. Members include: Play England, PlayBoard Northern Ireland, Play Scotland, Play Wales, Fields in Trust, Association of Play Industries, Kids, London Play, SkillsActive and Black Voices Network.

Supporting evidence/research: 

* The Play Return: A review of the wider impact of play initiatives shows how investing in play improves the health, wellbeing, social and educational development of children; and also supports families and communities The Children’s Play Policy Forum commissioned independent researcher and former government adviser Tim Gill to carry out the work in 2014. The review is available at:

Speaking at the All Party Parliamentary Group for Skills and Employment, Stuart Turner, Director of Standards and Qualificaitions for SkillsActive said:
“Policy makers and parliamentarians should be cautious over the increase in the minimum wage for apprentices aged 16 to 18 from £2.73 to £3.30 per hour from this October. The rise represents an increase of nearly £1,000 per year in employer wage costs. Salons, especially small and medium sized ones, facing such a large increase could reduce their recruitment of 16 to 18 year old hairdressing apprentices this autumn.”
He added: “Apprenticeships for 16 to 18 year olds is a small part of the overall apprenticeship system in England but hairdressing and barbering apprentices represent 10% of the total for this age group. Many of them are young women who want to ‘earn and learn’as an apprentice. The increase to £3.30, which is 50 pence per hour above the recommendation made by the Low Pay Commission of £2.80 per hour, could see a significant reduction in hairdressing apprenticeships for young people.”
For further information please call:
Mark Corney, Policy Manager, SkillsActive (07885 556400)

We are delighted to announce that Stuart Turner, Director of Standards for SkillsActive has been asked to address the ‘All Party Parliamentary Group on Skills and Employment’ on Thursday 19th March 2015. MPs, peers and stakeholders will be discussing ‘The Challenge of Growing Apprenticeships after the 2015 General Election’.

Commenting on the upcoming committee meeting Stuart said: “I am delighted that SkillsActive will be able to make a direct contribution to the seminar. 10% of all 16 to 18 year olds starting an apprenticeship in England do so in hairdressing and barbering: the decision to increase the minimum wage rate for 16 to 18 year olds from £2.73 per hour to £3.30 per hour from October 1st could result in fewer young apprentices in our sector and for 16-18 year olds overall.”

He continued to say: “The Coalition Government has announced an employer voucher for apprenticeships to place purchasing power into the hands of individuals firms and there is the question of the role of Local Enterprise Partnerships in apprenticeships. And there is the controversial issue of removing the brand ‘apprenticeship’ for Level 2. The APPGSE has organised a timely event a day after the Budget and a few days before the general election campaign kicks off.”

For further information please contact Stuart Turner, Director for Standards and Qualifications on 07921 067051 or please contact Mark Corney, Policy Manager on 07885 556 400

Next month SkillsActive will be attending FIBO 2015, Europe’s leading trade show for fitness, wellness and health. The annual event takes place in Cologne, Germany and this year celebrates its 30th year. Members of SkillsActive’s Professional Development Team will be in attendance on Thursday 9th and Friday 10th April to explore endorsement opportunities with current and potential training providers from Europe and across the world. A number of European-based training providers have already gained endorsement through SkillsActive as a way to access the growing fitness market in the UK.

SkillsActive’s Head of Professional Development, Tom Bell, is looking forward to attending the show:

“We are delighted to attend FIBO 2015 to be able to offer European training providers the opportunity to access the lucrative UK market using the power of endorsement through SkillsActive and the Register of Exercise Professionals (REPs). Having attended in previous years we know first-hand the dynamic ideas, concepts and training methods in Europe and the impact these can have on the UK fitness industry.”

If you are attending FIBO 2015 and would like to arrange to speak with one of the team, please let us know. Email us at This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it. or call us on +44(0)20 7840 1911 to set up an appointment.

As National Apprenticeship Week 2015 enters its final day, SkillsActive and Habia would like to bring you some great feedback from apprentices and employers in the beauty sector. We are also delighted to announce that apprentices and students can gain free access to the Register of Beauty Professionals.

Eleanor Askew, completing her Level 2 Beauty Therapy qualification with esg believes she has “gained knowledge into the world of beauty therapy”. Whilst completing her apprenticeship at Askews Hairdressing, she told us:

“I have come across many situations that would not have occurred in a college environment… keeping to time with treatment, with onsite therapists for support”.

Debbie Askew, Salon Director at Askews Hairdressing offers apprenticeships as it not only gives learners the chance to “experience salon day to day life and be hands on throughout their qualification”, but it also offers the “chance for therapists to support the juniors to shape how they work”.

Salon owner, Jeanette Norman at The Crop Shop also believes that other companies should offer apprenticeships to their existing employees as it “offers progression opportunities”.

Niccola Banks, currently completing her Level 2 Nails qualification at The Crop Shop decided to take up the apprenticeship opportunity in order to progress in her career. By completing the apprenticeship she will be able to “stay in employment and make new clients”.

The Professional Register for Beauty, Nails and Spa started life back in October 2013 as three separate registers. The first development sees the merge of these three registers to one, The Register of Beauty Professionals with one website

SkillsActive and Habia would like to remind all students and apprentices that registration is now FREE for students enrolled on qualifications accredited by an awarding organisation.

Commenting on this announcement Compliance and Standards Manager for the Register of Beauty Professionals, Jacqueline Vidal said:

“It’s fantastic to see young people taking up apprenticeship opportunities within the industry, and it’s great to see so many employers giving young people the opportunity to fulfil their journey into a wonderful industry.

She continued to say:

“I am delighted that we are able to support young people coming into our sector. Membership of the Register of Beauty Professionals will give young learners the support and networking opportunities needed to develop their skills and continue their professional development throughout their career not just as an apprentice.”

For more information about the Register of Beauty Professionals and to join, please visit

SkillsActive has welcomed the publication of the Education Committee’s report into Apprenticeships and Traineeships for 16 to 19 Year Olds in England.

Ian Taylor, CEO for SkillsActive commented on the report:

“The education committee has shone a spotlight on apprenticeships for 16 to 19 year olds in England and published its report at a pertinent time.

15% of all 16 to 18 year olds starting an apprenticeship in England do so in our sectors, with two thirds at Level 2. I support the Education Committee recommendation that Apprenticeships at Level 2 which offer significant training and a positive income return should be retained.

Evidence from the Department for Business, Innovation and Skills for hairdressing, for instance, shows positive income returns at Level 2 and Level 3 apprenticeships.”

He continued to say that:

“In national apprenticeship week, my key message to policy makers is that ‘earning and learning’ opportunities through apprenticeships must remain available for the 16 to 18 age group. Employers in hairdressing and barbering, fitness and outdoor leisure, and playwork, can be proud of their contribution to making ‘earning and learning’ a reality for thousands of 16-18 year olds in England.”

SkillsActive welcome the committee’s recommendation that apprentices should be able to study functional skills in Maths and English as part of their apprenticeship instead of being pushed to take GCSEs.

Ian Taylor concluded:

“We are working with the Education and Training Foundation’s review of English and Maths to propose a solution to the functional skills/GCSE issue which suits both apprentices and employers.”

To read the recommendations made by the Education Committee and the report in full please click here.

We are half way through National Apprenticeship Week and with 16% of all 16 year old apprenticeships in England being in hairdressing and barbering, SkillsActive and Habia are pleased to bring you great news for the hair sector.

Jems salon owner, Chloe Wilkinson plans to bring more apprentices on board in the future, saying that:

“Everyone has to start somewhere, and it gives them a chance to gain more salon experience and knowledge”.

Rebecca Wall, currently completing her Level 3 Advanced Hairdressing qualification with esg at Jems is keen to progress further in her career. Completing her apprenticeship she explained to us the opportunities and benefits it’s has given her:

“Doing an apprenticeship has been a fantastic opportunity, allowing me to earn money whilst working and gaining experience. This wouldn’t have been possible down other avenues of education”.

Employers TONI&GUY a huge advocate for apprenticeships, Claire Slorach, Manager at TONI&GUY (Newcastle) told us:

“We offer apprenticeship to help build skills for young people. Organisations can benefit from having an apprentice as you can offer more services to your clients”.

Level 2 Barbering apprentice at TONI&GUY, Liam Murray, believes that working in the industry has be a benefit to his studies throughout his apprenticeship.

He said,

“I feel more confident from doing the apprenticeship, and look forward to using the skills and experiences I have developed to further my career in working in hairdressing”.

 Whether you're an employer looking to gain an apprentice, or looking to start an apprenticeship yourself and would like to gain some more information about where to start, please visit

It’s day two of National Apprenticeship Week 2015 and SkillsActive is has some great feedback to share from the fitness sector.

Spencer Ride(17 years) is currently completing an apprenticeship in Level 3 Personal Training with Focus Training, one of SkillsActive’s endorsed Lead Provider’s. The apprenticeship offers Spencer the opportunity to combine learning the trade with studying the qualification.

When asked what he has gained from his apprenticeship, Spencer said, “I’ve now got a much stronger CV with the qualification and experience … I have learnt to deal with the public better in a working gym.”

So why do employers offer apprenticeships?

Adrian Lea, Director at Pro Active PT Ltd (with Energie Fitness Wilmslow) fully supports apprenticeships and said:
“I believe heavily in developing people and seeing them achieves goals that improve their livelihood and careers firstly. There is also the financial benefit of the scheme, which includes £1,500 towards the business and keeps payroll down helping the gym commercially”.

Adrian also recommends other organisations to sign up to an apprenticeship scheme and says, “Like Spencer said… just do it!”.

Spencer would like to become a full time PT and progress within his career by completing further training in Nutrition and Physiotherapy. We wish Spencer the best of luck with his training!

As part of National Apprenticeship Week, we are also proud to announce that Register of Exercise Professionals (REPs) has introduced a new entry point to the register via apprenticeships. Those undertaking apprenticeships that will lead to gaining a recognised fitness qualification will be granted free of charge membership to the Register of Exercise allowing them to be a part of a 31,000 strong group of health and fitness professionals.

Commenting on this announcement Head of Membership for REPs Greg Small said:

"I am delighted that we are able to support young people coming into our sector. Membership of REPs will give young people the support and networking opportunities needed to develop their skills and continue their professional development throughout their career, not just as an apprentice."

To join REPs as an apprentice or student please visit

It’s the first day of National Apprenticeship Week 2015 and SkillsActive is delighted with the great work that training providers and employers across the sport sector are achieving. We spoke with London Aquatics Centre apprentice and employee of the year, Tom Scott, to find out how an Apprenticeship has really made a difference to his career.

After leaving university, Tom Scott (22 years) started looking for a job within a leisure company in order to progress with his career. Tom signed up to a Level 2 NVQ Certificate in Active Leisure, Learning and Well-being Services with the Institute of Swimming (IOS) and Greenwich Leisure Limited (GLL). Tom is thrilled with the progress he is making, and told us that “the apprenticeship has allowed me to grow, expand on my confidence and develop my career prospects”.

London Aquatics Centre (GLL) Deputy Manager, Elaine Anderson fully supports apprenticeships and is delighted with Tom’s commitment to the role, and his desire to want to learn and be part of the team.

“Tom has been able to gain experience and knowledge from others and is now employee of the year at the London Aquatics Centre, proving to be a great leader of the teams he works with … and is often used to help and train new staff.

Elaine strongly believes that if learners are captured early and have an interest, they will become hard working team members.

She continued to say that:

“Recruitment and training within the company from apprentices allows us to teach them the true job role hands on … it allows you to develop a more rounded team of individuals who will add a wider diversity to the company”.

Tom is looking forward to his prospects in progressing and developing his career at the London Aquatics Centre and recommends apprenticeships to other young people, “it gives them a chance to learn, work and get paid at the same time”.

SkillsActive wishes Tom the best of luck in his apprenticeship and future career at the London Aquatics Centre!

If you'd like more information about the the work we do, please contact our Group Standards and Qualifications Director This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.