ESP Play, a prominent playground design, manufacturing, and installation company based in the UK, is embarking on a transformative 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 emphasises the importance of integrating outdoor classrooms into the school curriculum to promote the well-rounded development of young learners.
A recent survey conducted by the University of Stirling shed light on the significant decrease in the amount of time primary school pupils spend engaged in outdoor learning. In 2022, the average time amounted to merely seven minutes per pupil per week, a stark contrast to the 30 minutes recorded in 2014. While the impact of Covid restrictions contributed to this decline, the report also underscored the lack of confidence among educators in providing outdoor learning opportunities. Nevertheless, the early years showed a positive increase in outdoor play and learning, amounting to 39% of the day compared to 36% in the 2014 survey.
ESP Play recognises the vital role outdoor learning and play play in fostering the physical and mental well-being of children, alongside supporting their educational growth. The company firmly advocates for outdoor classrooms to be an integral part of the curriculum in England and Wales, following the precedent set by Scotland’s Curriculum for Excellence.
Andrew Wood, the Managing Director of ESP Play, shared his concern, stating, “We have witnessed the benefits of outdoor learning for many years, and it is disheartening to observe the decline in outdoor play and learning opportunities. At ESP Play, we are deeply committed to transforming outdoor spaces into interactive and captivating learning environments. We firmly believe that outdoor classrooms not only cultivate a stronger bond with nature but also enhance the learning experience, making it more holistic, enjoyable, and meaningful for students.”
In alignment with the University of Stirling’s research, ESP Play urges educational institutions in England and Wales to invest in professional development for teachers, bolstering their confidence in providing outdoor learning opportunities. By doing so, learners can explore various curriculum areas, such as mathematics, science, and literacy, while addressing crucial topics such as sustainability, biodiversity loss, and climate change.
ESP Play’s vision aligns with that of Ofsted, the Office for Standards in Education, Children’s Services, and Skills, which underscores the significance of outdoor learning as a fundamental aspect of a comprehensive and balanced curriculum. Ofsted encourages schools to explicitly reference outdoor learning in their self-evaluation and other evidence presented during inspection visits.
Andrew Wood reiterated, “We are fully prepared to collaborate closely with schools nationwide to create outdoor spaces that foster active, confident, healthy, and determined young individuals. By utilising the school playground as a context for delivering genuine improvements in education, we can elevate standards and create a positive impact on children’s lives.”
As an industry leader, ESP Play is resolute in advocating for the integration of outdoor learning into the school curriculum, championing the well-being and educational achievements of young people across the country.
For further information about ESP Play and their innovative outdoor playground solutions, please visit www.espplay.co.uk.