ESP Play, a prominent playground design, manufacturing, and installation company based in the UK, is embarking on a transformative journey to revolutionise outdoor learning and play in schools throughout England and Wales. Recognising the decline in outdoor learning for primary school students in Scotland, ESP Play firmly advocates for the incorporation of outdoor classrooms into the school curriculum, considering them essential for the holistic development of young learners.
A survey conducted by the University of Stirling brought to light a concerning decrease in the amount of time primary school pupils spent learning outdoors. The report indicated a mere seven minutes “per pupil per week” in 2022, compared to 30 minutes in 2014. While Covid-related restrictions played a role in this decline, the report also underscored the lack of confidence among educators in providing outdoor learning opportunities. Nevertheless, there was a positive increase in outdoor play and learning during the early years, reaching 39% of the day, compared to 36% in the 2014 survey.
ESP Play places paramount importance on outdoor learning and play, recognising their significant impact on children’s physical and mental well-being, as well as their educational growth. The company firmly believes that outdoor classrooms should be an integral part of the curriculum in England and Wales, mirroring the approach taken in Scotland’s Curriculum for Excellence.
Andrew Wood, Managing Director of ESP Play, expressed concern over the decline in outdoor play and learning opportunities, stating, “We have witnessed the benefits of outdoor learning for years, and it is disheartening to see its decline. At ESP Play, we are devoted to transforming outdoor spaces into interactive and engaging learning environments. Outdoor classrooms not only connect children with nature but also enhance the learning experience, making it more interdisciplinary, enjoyable, and meaningful for students.”
Aligned with the vision of Ofsted, the Office for Standards in Education, Children’s Services, and Skills, ESP Play considers outdoor learning an indispensable element of a comprehensive and balanced curriculum. They urge schools to explicitly reference outdoor learning in their self-evaluation and other evidence presented during inspection visits.
In response to the University of Stirling’s research, ESP Play encourages educational institutions in England and Wales to invest in professional development for teachers, enhancing their confidence in providing outdoor learning opportunities. This approach allows learners to explore various curriculum areas, including mathematics, science, and literacy, while addressing crucial topics such as sustainability, biodiversity loss, and climate change.
Andrew Wood further emphasised, “We stand ready to collaborate closely with schools nationwide, creating outdoor spaces that nurture active, confident, healthy, and resilient young individuals. By utilising the school playground as a context to drive tangible improvements in education, we can elevate standards and make a positive impact on children’s lives.”
As a leading force in the industry, ESP Play is steadfast in their advocacy for the integration of outdoor learning into the school curriculum, championing the well-being and educational outcomes of young people across the country.
For more information about ESP Play and their innovative outdoor playground solutions, please visit www.espplay.co.uk.