Latest figures from members of the Association of Play Industries (API) show order values worth £46.2 million for the first quarter of 2015 – a 6.7 percent increase on the same quarter last year (£43.3 million) and a 20 percent increase on the last quarter of 2014 (£38.3 million). Export order values were £1.6 million in the first quarter of 2015, a 38.5 percent increase on the same quarter last year (£1.1 million).
The installation of new outdoor facilities for hundreds of schools with no suitable space for sport and PE funded by Sport England’s primary spaces initiative appears to have played a key role in this upswing. Budgets for public play provision, however, remain constrained.
API chair Michael Hoenigmann says: “Sport England’s primary spaces funding will undoubtedly make a difference to children’s access to school sport and PE, but the number of schools affected is marginal. Our wider concern is the lack of recognition of the vital role of children’s play in education, health and local government policy. The API’s four asks to politicians campaigning in the general election (#APIasks4play) would result in direct improvements to children’s health and well-being. In too many local authorities, children’s play facilities are purchased like staples or paper clips, without the involvement of child development experts or measurable outcomes for the communities they serve. That is a national scandal.”
The API’s four asks for play are:
1 Well-designed public play facilities, particularly in deprived communities
2 Removal of play from local authority procurement processes
3 Extension of the scope and scale of Sport England’s primary spaces funding programme
4 A measurable outcome for physical literacy in schools, assessed by Ofsted.
Pic credit: Fawns Playground Equipment