ESP Play, a prominent playground design, manufacturing, and installation company based in the UK, has embarked on a mission to revolutionise outdoor learning and play in schools across England and Wales. Recognising the decline in outdoor learning among primary school pupils in Scotland, ESP Play firmly advocates for the integration of outdoor classrooms into the school curriculum, believing it to be indispensable for the holistic development of young learners.
A survey conducted by the University of Stirling exposed a concerning reduction in the time allocated to outdoor learning for primary school pupils, revealing a mere seven minutes ‘per pupil per week’ in 2022, a significant drop from 30 minutes in 2014. While Covid-related restrictions may have played a part in this decline, the report also shed light on the lack of confidence among educators in providing outdoor learning opportunities. Nonetheless, the early years showed a positive increase in outdoor play and learning, reaching 39% of the day compared to 36% in the 2014 survey.
ESP Play acknowledges the crucial role that outdoor learning and play play in nurturing children’s physical and mental well-being, all the while supporting their educational growth. The company firmly asserts that outdoor classrooms should be an integral part of the curriculum, aligning with Scotland’s Curriculum for Excellence and its emphasis on outdoor learning.
Andrew Wood, Managing Director of ESP Play, expressed his concern over the decline in outdoor play and learning opportunities: “We have witnessed the benefits of outdoor learning for years, and it is disheartening to observe this decline. At ESP Play, we are dedicated to transforming outdoor spaces into interactive and engaging learning environments. Outdoor classrooms not only foster a deeper connection with nature but also enhance the learning experience, making it more interdisciplinary, enjoyable, and meaningful for students.”
Ofsted, the Office for Standards in Education, Children’s Services, and Skills, echoes ESP Play’s vision of outdoor learning as an essential element of a comprehensive and balanced curriculum. They encourage schools to explicitly embrace outdoor learning in their self-evaluation and during inspection visits, presenting it as a core component of the educational journey.
In alignment with the findings of the University of Stirling’s research, ESP Play urges educational institutions in England and Wales to invest in professional development for teachers, boosting their confidence in providing outdoor learning opportunities. Through this approach, learners can explore various curriculum areas, encompassing mathematics, science, literacy, and delve into crucial topics such as sustainability, biodiversity loss, and climate change.
Andrew Wood emphasised, “We are fully prepared to collaborate closely with schools nationwide, creating outdoor spaces that nurture active, confident, healthy, and resilient young individuals. By leveraging the school playground as an environment for genuine educational improvement, we can raise standards and make a positive impact on children’s lives.”
As a leading industry authority, ESP Play is steadfast in its 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 outdoor playground solutions, please visit www.espplay.co.uk.