ESP Play, a renowned UK-based company specialising in designing, manufacturing, and installing playgrounds, is on a noble mission to revolutionise education by promoting 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 believes that integrating outdoor classrooms into the curriculum is paramount for nurturing holistic development in young learners.
A survey conducted by the University of Stirling brought to light a concerning decrease in the time spent on outdoor learning by primary school pupils, revealing a mere seven minutes ‘per pupil per week’ in 2022, compared to 30 minutes in 2014. Although Covid restrictions played a role in this decline, the report also underscored a lack of confidence among educators in providing outdoor learning opportunities. Encouragingly, the early years showed a positive increase in outdoor play and learning, accounting for 39% of the day, as opposed to 36% in the 2014 survey.
ESP Play values the pivotal role of outdoor learning and play in fostering children’s physical and mental well-being, alongside supporting their educational growth. The company ardently advocates for outdoor classrooms to become an integral part of the curriculum in England and Wales, following the exemplary model of Scotland’s Curriculum for Excellence.
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 witness a decline in outdoor play and learning opportunities. At ESP Play, we are driven by a passion to transform outdoor spaces into interactive and engaging learning environments. We firmly believe that outdoor classrooms not only nurture 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 urges educational institutions in England and Wales to invest in professional development for teachers, thereby enhancing their confidence in providing outdoor learning opportunities. Such initiatives would enable learners to explore diverse curriculum areas, such as mathematics, science, and literacy, while addressing crucial subjects like sustainability, biodiversity, and climate change.
Emphasising this perspective, Andrew Wood added, “We stand ready to collaborate closely with schools nationwide to create outdoor spaces that cultivate active, confident, healthy, and resilient young individuals. By utilising the school playground as a context to deliver genuine educational enhancements, we can elevate standards and positively impact children’s lives.”
In alignment with ESP Play’s vision, Ofsted, the Office for Standards in Education, Children’s Services, and Skills, encourages schools to explicitly reference outdoor learning in their self-evaluation and during inspection visits, thus supporting the importance of outdoor education.
As an esteemed industry leader, ESP Play is wholeheartedly committed to advocating 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.