PRESS RELEASE For immediate publication: 18 March 2015
Investment in school playgrounds increases children’s physical activity and improves behaviour, suggest early findings from a new study.
Nearly half (48 per cent) of schools taking part to date in a national research project by leading school playground company, Playforce, said improving their outdoor facilities has significantly increased physical activity levels. 38.1 per cent reported major improvements in physical literacy and competence.
Behaviour (43.4 per cent) and positive attitudes to learning (36.3 per cent) were significantly better as a result too, schools said, as were happiness (54.1 per cent) and well-being (42.8 per cent). Even schools’ relationships with parents showed marked improvement (45.8 per cent).
Nearly half (48.1 per cent) of schools responding has completely transformed or made major improvements to their outdoor space in recent years, with 30 per cent spending over £20,000 on their project. Tackling physical inactivity was the main objective for 51.7 per cent for updating their outside space. 55.5 per cent installed fixed play equipment like trim trails, climbing equipment, platforms and towers. Surfacing, marking and pathways (40.7 per cent), imaginative and role play areas (40.7 per cent) and gardening areas (22.2 per cent) were also popular.
Play (85.7 per cent), outdoor learning (71.4 per cent) and PE lessons and sport (32.1per cent) are the main uses for new school playground installations. Over half (56 per cent) of schools responding said children use their new equipment and facilities three or more times a day and 32 per cent said an hour or more’s use was usual in a typical school day.
The benefits of playground investment go beyond the bell, it seems. 46.1 per cent 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 well-being. 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.”
The Playforce white paper, Healthy Children, is available to download here.