This project generates a best practice framework for playgroups-in-schools. It aims to identify the processes, practices and/or policies informing productive relationships between families and school-staff. Playgroups-in- schools are a burgeoning field of integrated early childhood service provision. Research shows that playgroup participation benefits parental capabilities about children’s play. High levels of parental knowledge, skills and confidence in providing children with play-experience are known to have a positive development and learning impact for children. Playgroups-in-schools are ripe for building parental capabilities through strengthened relationships with school-staff, but remain under-researched for this purpose.

Project aim

The number of playgroups-in-schools is increasing. Our research shows that playgroups-in-schools are characterised by strong bonding relationships and challenged by weak bridging relationships. This project is funded by Australian Research Council (Linkage) and aims to identify the range of practices, processes and policies in playgroups-in-schools that attend to both strong bonding and bridging relationships for the enhancement of parental capabilities about play. It will generate a Best Practice Framework to inform the provision of playgroups-in-schools as an innovative form of early childhood integrated service delivery.


  • Australian Research Council $156,000
  • Playgroup Victoria $180,000



Research investigators

Research partners

Dr Joanne Tarasuik, Playgroup Victoria


Participating school playgroup AWARD


Project findings

The study commenced in 2017. Publications and reports will be posted in this section as they become available.

Research brief

Policy brief


School playgroup resources

Selected bibliography

McLean, K. (2021). Using the sociocultural concept of learning activity to understand parents' learning about play in community playgroups and social media. British Journal of Educational Studies, 69(1), 83-99. https://doi.org/10.1080/00071005.2020.1724258

McLean, K., Edwards, S., Evangelou, M., & Lambert, P. (2018). Supported playgroups in schools: Bonding and bridging family knowledge about transition to formal schooling. Cambridge Journal of Education, 48(2), 157-175. https://doi.org/10.1080/0305764X.2016.1268569

Edwards, S., McLean, K., & Lambert, P. (2016). Fostering children’s everyday mathematical knowledge through caregiver participation in supported playgroups in schools. In S. Phillipson, P. Sullivan, & A. Gervasoni (Eds.), Engaging families as the first mathematics educators of children. Springer. https://doi.org/10.1007/978-981-10-2553-2

Hancock, K., Lawrence, D., Mitrou, F., Zarb, D., Berthelsen, D., Nicholson, J. M., & Zubrick, S. R. (2012). The association between playgroup participation, learning competence and social-emotional wellbeing for children aged 4-5 years in Australia. Australasian Journal of Early Childhood, 37(2), 72-81. http://dx.doi.org/10.1177/183693911203700211 

McLean, K., Edwards, S., Evangelou, M., Skouteris, H., Harrison, L. J., Hemphill, S. A., Sullivan, P., & Lambert, P. (2015). Playgroups as sites for parental education. Journal of Early Childhood Research, Online, 1-11. https://doi.org/10.1177%2F1476718X15595753

Sen, A. (1985). Well-being, agency and freedom: the Dewey lectures. Journal of Philosophy, 82 (4), 169-221. https://doi.org/10.2307/2026184

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