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Better equipment improves children's wellbeing

Investing in school playgrounds improves behaviour

Children's happiness and wellbeing increase with good playground equipment

Posted by Stephanie Broad | September 04, 2016 | Outdoors

A 2015 study by the UK’s leading playground supplier, Playforce, demonstrated that investment in school playgrounds increases children’s physical activity and improves behaviour.  This initial study is now being followed up by further research amongst customers into the evidential impact that investment in play areas has for school-age children.

Mark Wood, TCL Group Managing Director for Play, said:  “As part of our commitment to giving every child the opportunity to live a healthy, active life, we're asking customers that have had a Playforce installation in the last 36 months to complete a short survey.  The survey will look at the impact installing a playground has had on physical activity levels, behaviour and positive attitudes to learning”.

Findings from the 2015 study included:

  • Nearly half (48 per cent) of schools that took part 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 had 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) were 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.  

Wood continued: “In 2015 we set out a clear message that forward-thinking schools understand the benefits of providing as many opportunities for children to be active as possible throughout the school day and beyond.  Our findings last year were positive but we want to go further.  We feel that a lack of measurable, accurate data has prevented lobbying bodies and the wider industry from presenting a stronger argument for play funding.  We hope that this research will help shine a light on the benefits of play and the benefit of investment in well-designed, high-quality equipment and facilities for outdoor learning and activity”.

To take part in the impact evidence research project, Playforce customers should visit https://www.surveymonkey.co.uk/r/Impact0916.

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