Karen Cossey is an NVQ assessor and sessional lecturer at City College Norwich. She works in qualifications from early years to playwork. Fiona Muller interviewed Karen to find out more about playwork.

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Why is it a good profession to get into?

Playwork is all about working with learners to create an understanding of formal learning within the informal aspect of an afterschool setting. It is all about having fun and working with children outside of the structured school setting.

I am passionate about playwork and want to instill that passion into others. After-school clubs are really important nowadays as parents have to work to maintain a healthy economic lifestyle and are therefore using these facilities more than ever. Playwork is, therefore, a growing sector.

What does the work involve?

My average day is 9am-5pm. I work 5 days a week and have a permanent position.

I used to run an afterschool club which is how I got into this sector. An assessor visited the club I ran and asked if I would be interested in becoming an assessor. I did a TAQA award and my career as an assessor began. I am qualified to BA level in Early childhood Studies and also have a Level 3 qualification in Playwork.

What are the positives/negatives of this profession?

I am very positive about this position as I am doing something that I feel very passionate about. I love the fact that my job involves me visiting external groups and sharing best practice as I also like motivating students to enable them to complete their award.

On the negative side, there is a lot of paperwork involved in the role – apart from that there are no discernible negatives attached to this position apart from the fact that I think many more people should be taking up the chance for this qualification.

Is there much local demand for people trained in this area?

Demand is rising all the time. Having the playwork qualification alongside an early years qualification makes you better able to relate to children on a number of different levels. As there are more applicants for every vacant job, this gives jobseekers an “edge” when seeking employment within the sector.

City College Norwich are hosting a Playwork Awareness afternoon on Wednesday, August 1, for childcare professionals who would like to know more about the importance of play and Playwork. If you want to find out more email Louise at projectfirst@ccn.ac.uk

What would employers look for in someone applying for a vacancy?

I think employers look for excellent communications skills, good time management skills and the necessary qualifications for the job. It is important that the interviewee has a positive manner and the ability to relate to children too.