Nearly half (48 percent) of schools taking part to date in a national research project by school playground company Playforce said improving their outdoor facilities has significantly increased physical activity levels and 38.1 per cent reported major improvements in physical literacy and competence.
Behaviour (43.4 percent) and positive attitudes to learning (36.3 percent) were significantly better as a result too, schools said, as were happiness (54.1 percent) and wellbeing (42.8 percent). Even schools’ relationships with parents showed marked improvement (45.8 percent).
Nearly half (48.1 percent) of schools responding have transformed or made major improvements to their outdoor space in recent years, with 30 percent spending more than £20,000 on their project. Tackling physical inactivity was the main objective for 51.7 percent for updating their outside space. Just over half (55.5 percent) installed fixed play equipment like trim trails, climbing equipment, platforms and towers. Surfacing, marking and pathways (40.7 percent), imaginative and role play areas (40.7 percent) and gardening areas (22.2 percent) were also popular.
Play (85.7 percent), outdoor learning (71.4 percent) and PE lessons and sport (32.1 percent) are the main uses for new school playground installations. More than half (56 percent) of schools responding said children use their new equipment and facilities three or more times a day and 32 percent said an hour or more’s use was usual in a typical school day. Just under half (46.1 percent) of respondents said children use their school’s outdoor space before and after school.
Playforce managing director Tim Lacey said: “Forward-thinking schools understand the benefits of providing as many opportunities for children to be active as possible throughout the school day and beyond. These early findings are hugely positive for the state of child health and wellbeing. Investing in well-designed, high-quality equipment and facilities for outdoor learning and play delivers far-reaching value for every child. We remind schools that resources that improve movement skills and physical literacy are eligible for Sport Premium funding.”
To take part in the impact evidence research project, Playforce customers should visit https://www.surveymonkey.com/s/impactevidence2
The Playforce white paper, Healthy Children, is available to download at www.playforce.co.uk/healthy-children