Creating learning environments to support learning outcomes

12 September 2016

Creating a successful outdoor space at school isn’t as simple as putting in some new playground equipment and hoping for the best. To ensure that children gain the best possible experience and opportunities from their playground it takes a lot more research and brain power. 


We’ve summarised some crucial research that highlights the important impacts that learning environments have on learning outcomes.


Design and Quality


A factsheet released by the Ministry of Education, ‘Teaching and Learning Environments: Impact on student engagement and achievement’, summarises that school property plays an important supporting role in the delivery of education. It states that inadequate facilities have an adverse impact on student achievement and engagement and that the inadequate provision of variables that impact on student comfort negatively affect learning outcomes.


According to the factsheet, positive outdoor spaces (those that are well designed and defined) are linked to better student outcomes. It is clear throughout this research that high quality design is crucial for delivering the best possible learning outcomes. 




Some studies, in the Ministry of Education research, found that student achievement increases following a renovation of rebuild of the school facilities and that flexibility of space is a feature of quality teaching and learning environments. Many schools that we have worked with already have an outdoor learning environment in place but simply want to give it a new lease of life. Refreshing a playground so that it is more flexible for outdoor learning is always an exciting project and is one that our team love to take on. 

Links to the curriculum


A report carried out by Ofsted in 2008, ‘Learning Outside the Classroom’, highlighted many benefits of outdoor learning in schools. The key takeaway from the results was that learning outside the classroom was most successful when it was an integral element of long-term curriculum planning and closely linked to classroom activities. 


Therefore, to ensure successful long-term outdoor learning it’s important to consider the curriculum and classroom activities in your design. Working with a team who are experts in the latest curriculum and know how to make the most of your outdoor space is crucial. Choose high quality play equipment that is multi-functional and can be used for a range of different activities across the curriculum. For example, our Trim Trails have been used by schools to hold competitions in PE, learn about balance and forces in Science and the setting for a Number Hunt in Maths. At play time they become anything the children can imagine. 


Schools that want to make outdoor learning more accessible but don’t have the flexibility to commit to a large playground rebuild can consider equipment that can be moved between the two. Our Poddely Sets have been extremely popular with schools and nurseries that want to transition between the classroom and the playground. They are designed to encourage creative, free-flow play and learning across the curriculum and can be used by children to create their very own unique learning environment. 

When considering the long-term planning of curriculum links with a learning environment, it’s important to think about how the space can be used throughout the school year. The British weather is far from predictable so outdoor spaces need to be designed for use come rain or shine.. Shelters can be used as anything from an outdoor classroom to a stage to somewhere the children can eat their lunch. Having accessibility to an outdoor learning environment throughout the year can help schools put a long-term curriculum plan in place.


To ensure your school gets the best possible learning outcomes from your outdoor learning environment, there are a lot of factors to consider. At Playforce we are experts in creating outdoor spaces that are of the highest quality and can be used across the curriculum, come rain or shine. To find out how we can help you design the perfect learning environment, book a free consultation with one of our local advisors. 

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