Playwork is the work of creating and maintaining spaces for children to play.
The theory and practice of playwork recognises that children's play must be 'Freely chosen, personally driven and intrinsically motivated.' Children's playing must not be 'Adulterated' (corrupted) by any adult or external agendas.
It is the job of a playworker to ensure that the broadest possible range of Play Types  is available to children, to observe, reflect and analyse the playing that is happening and select a mode of intervention or make a change to the playspace if needed.
The profession has its roots in the early Adventure Playground movement and can now be studied to degree and masters levels.
Playwork should not be confused with Childcare, Childcare is entirely structured play.
Being qualified in Playwork can lead to a wide range of jobs, including working for Early Years, Sure Start, Out of School Clubs, Youth Clubs and other community groups.
A play ranger is a local government employee who visits parks and outdoor spaces, providing equipment and some guidance to help children enjoy their public spaces more. They have been described as a combination of a park ranger and a playworker. They share some skills and goals in common with staff of a Forest kindergarten, but are more focused on play than workers at Forest schools.
- SkillsActive. "Playwork Principals", "Playwork Principals Scrutany Group", 2005, accessed 8 march 2011
- Freedomtoplay.org. "Bob Hughes Play Types", "Bob Hughes" 2002, accessed 8 march 2011
- Gill, Tim (2007). No fear: Growing up in a Risk Averse society. Calouste Gulbenkian Foundation. p. 81. ISBN 978-1-903080-08-5.
Playworkers now in the UK can study for a foundation degree in playwork at the University of Brighton