Playgroups in Scotland

The first playgroups in Scotland emerged in the early 1960s, on the back of the Nursery School Campaign, a UK wide parent led initiative set-up to highlight the lack of facilities for children under five.

The Campaign led to the establishment of a charity called the Pre-school Playgroups Association (PPA), and in Scotland this became the umbrella organisation (and Early Years Scotland’s predecessor) for a rapidly increasing number of voluntary run playgroups in villages, towns and cities across the country.

Not only did these new groups give young children a priceless opportunity to play with other children, but they were also important in terms of parental involvement and community engagement.

The ‘playgroup movement’ continued to grow during the 1970s and 80s, and well into the 90s, as more and more groups opened throughout Scotland.

As the provision of early years education and care began to assume more importance to policy makers, the introduction and expansion of statutory entitlement meant a huge increase in local authority, private and voluntary sector early learning and childcare (ELC) provision. The demands facing committees due to the expanded hours has meant additional skillsets from committee members are now in high demand within the voluntary sector.

Early Years Scotland is deeply concerned about the growing number of closures of voluntary run playgroups as a result of the continuing decline of committee volunteers.

Watch this fascinating film from the earliest days of the voluntary playgroup movement in Scotland, emphasising the value of pre-school playgroups in helping with the social and intellectual development of young children, and the important role voluntary run playgroups play in local communities.

The film was produced for Early Years Scotland’s predecessor organsiation, the Scottish Pre-school Playgroups Association (SPPA), in 1971, and was directed by the renowned photographer and fim-maker Oscar Marzaroli.