Play as a mode of capability development in Scottish primary schools

Louise Scott-McKie, Laurie Anne Campbell

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In Scotland, the Curriculum for Excellence (CfE) provides education practitioners with the opportunity for transformational change through the delivery of a holistic, broad and general education. This paper explores the extent to which play can be used as a pedagogical tool in developing the capabilities of children to realise the ambitions of CfE. The focus here is four of the ten core capabilities identified by Martha Nussbaum in her version of the Capabilities Approach; one of which is play, the others being those with which it is intrinsically linked, i.e. affiliation, ‘senses, imagination and thought’, and ‘practical reason’. This conceptual analysis of play, autonomy and the Capabilities Approach constitutes a theoretical case for playful approaches in all stages of Scottish primary schools. It is argued that this would provide opportunities for human flourishing in the context of the CfE.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)14-28
Number of pages15
JournalScottish Educational Review
Issue number1
Publication statusPublished - 4 Dec 2019


  • play-pedagogy
  • the capabilities approach
  • CfE
  • primary school education


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