ESP Play, an eminent playground design, manufacturing, and installation company based in the UK, is embarking on a mission to revolutionise outdoor learning and play in schools across England and Wales. Recognising the decline in outdoor learning for primary school pupils in Scotland, ESP Play advocates for the incorporation of outdoor classrooms in the school curriculum to support the holistic development of young learners.
According to a survey conducted by the University of Stirling, there has been a noticeable decrease in the time primary school pupils spend learning outdoors. The study revealed a concerning figure of only seven minutes ‘per pupil per week’ in 2022, a significant drop from 30 minutes recorded in 2014. While Covid restrictions have played a role in this decline, the report also highlighted the lack of confidence among practitioners in providing outdoor learning opportunities. However, encouragingly, the early years saw a positive increase in outdoor play and learning, accounting for 39% of the day, compared to 36% in the 2014 survey.
ESP Play firmly acknowledges the pivotal role of outdoor learning and play in nurturing the physical and mental well-being of children, alongside supporting their educational growth. The company firmly advocates for outdoor classrooms to become an integral part of the curriculum in England and Wales, mirroring Scotland’s Curriculum for Excellence.
Andrew Wood, the Managing Director of ESP Play, expressed concern over the declining outdoor learning opportunities and emphasised the company’s commitment to transforming outdoor spaces into interactive and engaging learning environments. He emphasised the benefits of outdoor classrooms, which not only connect children with nature but also enhance the learning experience, infusing it with interdisciplinary elements, fun, and meaningful engagement.
Ofsted, the Office for Standards in Education, Children’s Services, and Skills, shares ESP Play’s vision of outdoor learning as an indispensable component of a broad and balanced curriculum. The regulatory body encourages schools to explicitly reference outdoor learning in their self-evaluation and other evidence presented during inspection visits.
Aligned with 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. Such initiatives can enable learners to explore diverse curriculum areas, including mathematics, science, and literacy, while addressing critical topics such as sustainability, biodiversity loss, and climate change.
Andrew Wood reiterated the company’s commitment to working closely with schools nationwide, collaborating to create outdoor spaces that foster active, confident, healthy, and determined young individuals. By leveraging school playgrounds as contexts for genuine educational improvements, ESP Play aims to elevate standards and positively impact the lives of children.
As a leading industry advocate, ESP Play remains dedicated to championing the integration of outdoor learning into the school curriculum, prioritising 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.