Play as a Vehicle for Learning & Continuous Provision – The Best Kept Secret in Early Years

Dan Weir, Research Analyst, Morton Michel
26th March 2024

Share this entry:

James McDonald is Morton Michels’ Business Development Manager and is no stranger to the importance of play. In his role looking after our Children’s Activity Franchises, he can often be found participating in games, dancing, singing, or occasionally being chased around by children wilding nerf guns. It’s all in a days’ work for the insurance sector! So it was no surprise that he volunteered to attend both of Alistair Bryce-Clegg’s talks on the subject of play and continuous learning.

Alistair is very much a fixture of the Childcare and Education Expo. His talks routinely sell out and it is easy to see why. His enthusiasm is infectious and his knowledge is second to none. No-one walks out of one of his talks still thinking believing that playful learning is the same as play! This is, of course, a subject that the sector is very aware of. There is often a feeling amongst play workers professionals that play is not being used correctly. Alistair’s talk offered a number of useful tips and advance on how to fix this, and maximise children’s potential.


The two-talk format was effective, giving Alistair the space to develop the theory of play in the morning, while in the afternoon he was able to give some more practical advice on how to put it into practice. The idea behind continuous learning is to create spaces to ensure learning can continue after the teaching is done. This could sound quite clinical and controlled, but Alistair made it clear that does not need to be. While children need tools and resources, they don’t need to be told how to use them, they can discover this on their own. They can even benefit from utilising messy spaces for their play and development!

A final takeaway was that children need to find connections. Role play and mini worlds are fantastic, but they need to be based around things children can engage with. While a jungle or arctic environment might look exciting to adults, it might not mean much to children who have never been to either environment. On the other hand, giving them access to something familiar like a kitchen or a car will enable them to connect.

Why attend Childcare & Education Expo?

Join over 2,500 like-minded individuals from the early years & primary sector who are dedicated to improving their practice and their education settings.

Attend educational seminars and panel discussions to credit your CPD

Meet the experts to have your questions answered

Receive fantastic onsite offers and discounts

Experience expert-led informative hands-on workshops

Network with peers and industry players

Pick up hundreds of new products, resources, ideas and services

And most of all, enjoy a great day out with your colleagues

100+ exhibitors | 1000s of industry players | 100s of experts