ESP Play, a prominent UK-based playground design, manufacturing, and installation company, is embarking on a mission to revolutionise outdoor learning and play in schools throughout England and Wales. Recognising the decline in outdoor learning for primary school pupils in Scotland, ESP Play advocates for the integration of outdoor classrooms into the school curriculum, emphasising the holistic development of young learners.
Recent research conducted by the University of Stirling unveiled a disconcerting decrease in the time primary school pupils spent engaging in outdoor learning, with only seven minutes per pupil per week recorded in 2022, compared to 30 minutes in 2014. Although Covid restrictions played a role in this decline, the report also pointed out a lack of confidence among educators in providing outdoor learning opportunities. Nevertheless, the early years witnessed a positive increase in outdoor play and learning, reaching 39% of the day compared to 36% in the 2014 survey.
Understanding the pivotal role of outdoor learning and play in fostering children’s physical and mental well-being alongside their educational progress, ESP Play strongly advocates for the inclusion of outdoor classrooms in the curriculum of schools in England and Wales, following Scotland’s Curriculum for Excellence as an exemplary model.
Andrew Wood, Managing Director of ESP Play, expressed his concern, stating, “We have witnessed the benefits of outdoor learning for years, and it is disheartening to see a decline in outdoor play and learning opportunities. At ESP Play, we are fervent about transforming outdoor spaces into interactive and captivating learning environments. We firmly believe that outdoor classrooms not only cultivate a deeper connection with nature but also enrich the learning experience, making it more interdisciplinary, enjoyable, and meaningful for students.”
In alignment with the University of Stirling’s research, ESP Play calls upon educational institutions in England and Wales to invest in professional development for teachers, bolstering their confidence in providing outdoor learning opportunities. Such initiatives enable learners to explore diverse curriculum areas, encompassing mathematics, science, literacy, and addressing vital topics like sustainability, biodiversity loss, and climate change.
Andrew Wood further emphasised, “We stand prepared to collaborate closely with schools nationwide, creating outdoor spaces that nurture active, confident, healthy, and determined young individuals. By leveraging the school playground as a platform for genuine advancements in education, we can elevate standards and foster a positive impact on children’s lives.”
The vision held by ESP Play aligns with Ofsted‘s perspective, as the Office for Standards in Education, Children’s Services, and Skills endorses outdoor learning as a fundamental element of a comprehensive and balanced curriculum. Schools are encouraged to explicitly reference outdoor learning in their self-evaluation and other evidence presented during inspection visits.
As a leader in the industry, ESP Play remains steadfast in advocating for the integration of outdoor learning into the school curriculum, championing the well-being and educational outcomes of young people across the nation.
For more information about ESP Play and their innovative outdoor playground solutions, please visit www.espplay.co.uk.