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Active Play - Inspiring Scotland

Active Play

Improving the health and well-being of our children.

Active Play is an evidence-based programme that effectively helps children be more physically active. It supports children’s emotional, social and cognitive development. Research has shown that children who are physically active are more likely to have a healthier lifestyle and learn better, as they grow older. Designed to be fun, inclusive and active, Active Play is a straightforward and inexpensive programme to implement.

It contributes directly to the Curriculum for Excellence’s health and wellbeing outcomes, Scotland’s Mental Health Strategy, Health Improvement goals and the Active Scotland Framework. The programme lasts 15-weeks, combining semistructured games and unstructured free play, delivered outdoors by local play specialists.

Active Play develops children’s fundamental movement skills including running, jumping, throwing and catching as well as their physical literacy by building their competence, confidence and motivation through playing more and being more physically active.

It also builds positive relationships between the children and adults engaged in delivery. Within schools these improved relationships have led to better classroom behaviour and supported learning.

At the end of the programme adults have the confidence, ability and resources to continue Active Play within their settings and with the use of the online Actify resource, toolkits, videos and additional training have continued support as part of the Active Play network.

8 - 9 hours

is the average recreational screentime at the weekend

68 minutes

is how long the average young person spends their day outdoors


of children said they had fun during Active Play


of children play more outside of school following Active Play

Play is serious.

Active Play is much more than a nice idea. Our own research is backed up by studies from the USA, Canada and Scandinavia which demonstrate the importance of outdoor physically active play in aiding a child’s mental development; boosting cognitive ability, academic achievement, imagination, creativity and social skills.

Read our evaluation summary

Actify Video

Keen to find out more about the Active Play programme? Check out this great video made by our programme partners Actify.

Development of the Active Play hub and training modules to support more play in schools is funded through Inspiring Scotland with thanks to Glasgow Education.

Watch it here

Active Play Prospectus

Active Play promotes greater physical activity for Scotland’s children in a way that is fun, inclusive and active.

Read it here

CALA and Aviemore Primary School

Children in rural areas often have lower levels of physical activity than those in urban areas. In response to this charity partner CALA extended the Active Play programme across Inverness, Aviemore and Ullapool.   

A fun, active, and inclusive approach that puts children at the heart of Active Play has been fundamental to the success of the Active Play programme in the Highlands.  This, coupled with building the knowledge and confidence of adults responsible for children, has ensured the legacy of Active play within each setting.  

In 2022/23, 177 hours of the Active Play programme was delivered in Aviemore primary to 10 classes. 

“The collaboration between Inspiring Scotland and Education has ensured the children of Glasgow have increased confidence in participating in physcial activity during play/lunch times.

"The partnership has demonstrated that effective collaboration with 3rd sector community partners is a vital link in our shared agenda and enhances the support and opportunities available to School communities. 3rd sector partners are uniquely positioned to understand the local challenges within the community. Across Glasgow this is a vital component and greatly enhances the collaboration and success of the partnership.“

Sally Machane, PEPASS Manager

“We were pleased to be the recipients of the ‘Active Play Programme’ provided by CALA in 3 of our Local Authority Nursery’s, totalling the involvement of 150 ELC children. This has been hugely beneficial for both staff and children along with supporting Highland Council’s goal of ensuring that our youngest children have daily access to outdoor play and physical activities.

"Delighted to hear through participating in Active Play, that the three ELC’s involved show a marked increase in the children’s self-confidence, balance, and coordination along with increased awareness of empathy, sharing and turn taking.

"We welcome the continued delivery across our schools and ELC’s and look forward to seeing the positive impact of the programme for many years to come.”

Hayley Brown, Senior Manager ELC, Highland Council

Raising attainment through Active Play

Our Active Play programme is currently being introduced to 139 primary schools across Glasgow in conjunction with Glasgow City Council Education. A further pilot programme is under way in eight primary schools in Dundee, in partnership with Scottish Government and Dundee City Council, with a similar programme planned for Highland in January. Download our prospectus to see how Active Play can be integrated into primary schools in your local authority

Hear from Former Executive Director of Education in Scotland, Maureen McKenna on the importance of Active Play within schools.

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