Advancing Education Through Nature: ESP Play Promotes Widespread Adoption of Outdoor Classrooms in UK Schools

Last Updated on: 21st November 2023, 11:44 pm

ESP Play, a prominent UK-based company specialising in playground design, manufacturing, and installation, is on a mission to transform education and play experiences in schools throughout England and Wales. Recognising the decline in outdoor learning opportunities for primary school pupils in Scotland, ESP Play advocates for the integration of outdoor classrooms into the curriculum to foster the comprehensive development of young learners.

A survey conducted by the University of Stirling uncovered a concerning decrease in the time spent on outdoor learning by primary school pupils, revealing a mere seven minutes per pupil per week in 2022, compared to 30 minutes in 2014. Although Covid-related restrictions contributed to this decline, the report also emphasised the lack of confidence among practitioners in providing outdoor learning opportunities. Encouragingly, the early years witnessed a positive increase in outdoor play and learning, with 39% of the day allocated to these activities, compared to 36% in the 2014 survey.

ESP Play firmly believes in the indispensable role of outdoor learning and play in nurturing children’s physical and mental well-being, as well as supporting their educational growth. They advocate that outdoor classrooms should be an intrinsic part of the curriculum in England and Wales, mirroring the approach taken in Scotland’s Curriculum for Excellence.

Andrew Wood, Managing Director of ESP Play, expressed his concern about the declining emphasis on outdoor learning, saying, “We have witnessed the benefits of outdoor learning for years, and it is disheartening to see a diminishing focus on outdoor play and learning opportunities. At ESP Play, we are driven by our passion to transform outdoor spaces into interactive and engaging learning environments. We firmly believe that outdoor classrooms not only cultivate a deeper connection with nature but also enhance the learning experience, making it more interdisciplinary, enjoyable, and meaningful for students.”

Ofsted, the Office for Standards in Education, Children’s Services, and Skills, shares ESP Play’s vision of outdoor learning as a pivotal element of a comprehensive and balanced curriculum. They actively encourage schools to explicitly incorporate outdoor learning in their self-evaluation and other evidence presented during inspection visits.

Aligned with the findings from the University of Stirling’s research, ESP Play urges educational institutions in England and Wales to invest in professional development for teachers to bolster their confidence in providing outdoor learning opportunities. Through this approach, learners can explore diverse curriculum areas, such as mathematics, science, and literacy, while addressing crucial topics like sustainability, biodiversity loss, and climate change.

Andrew Wood further asserted, “We stand prepared to collaborate closely with schools nationwide to create outdoor spaces that foster active, confident, healthy, and determined young individuals. By utilising the school playground as a context to deliver genuine improvements in education, we can elevate standards and create a positive impact on children’s lives.”

As a leading industry advocate, ESP Play remains steadfast in their commitment to promoting the integration of outdoor learning into the school curriculum, championing the well-being and educational outcomes of young people across the country.

For more information about ESP Play and their comprehensive outdoor playground solutions, please visit

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