Education 1,203 views Aug 03, 2017
Why we must protect our school playgrounds

With growing pressure on schools to provide even more classroom places it seems that playing fields and playgrounds are disappearing at a very fast rate particularly in our inner cities.

Recent research published in the national media suggests that some 35% of schools are building classrooms on areas once exclusively designated for play and 90% of expanding schools are losing play space because they are admitting more pupils to cope with local demand.

Up to half a million primary school children are being deprived of play space because councils are building classrooms on playgrounds. Experts suggest that this is the result ofa baby boom coupled with rising immigration, which means that England’s pupil population will exceed eight million for the first time in almost half a century.

Companies such as Play Cubed, which specialise in designing and installing playgrounds in schools, fears that pupils who cannot have proper play times will be less able academically. Most experts agree that play and the benefits it provides helps children learn in the classroom – and if there are no such facilities then that learning benefit will disappear.

Forecasters say that pupil numbers will soar by almost a million over the next decade to reach their highest level since the mid-70s, meaning children will have even less room to play - estimates suggest that some 478,800 pupils could be affected.

Experts such as Play Cubed agree that access to outside space is vital and schools need to preserve it with playtime experiences helping boost children’s development and well-being.

Until recently schools had to provide between 2,500 and 75,000 square metres of space for team games depending on the number of pupils they educated but that rule has now changed to providing ‘suitable outdoor space’ for physical education and play.

It’s a trend that we ignore at our peril if we are to develop well balanced children who will enjoy the education experience – the power of play is not to be underestimated at the expense of cramming even more youngsters into classrooms.