The Play Project
We believe that every child at school should have access to a stimulating, sustainable green space at play and lunch times in which they can truly benefit from being outdoors; where their curiosity about the natural world is prompted and where they are encouraged to carve a personal, social and psychological space which will enable them to develop as young adults.
Do you have any old, but serviceable trowels, small spades, small forks or other suitable digging equipment? If so, please bring them in to Mrs Athersuch or Miss Bardel in Year 5 (the temporary classroom).
To develop our existing outdoor space – playground and field - at Ashley School so that:
- it echoes and enhances the ethos of our creative, inquisitive curriculum
- it encourages our children to become more confident, to be better negotiators and to re-connect with the natural world and harness the benefits that being outdoors can bring.
To ensure that our children have access to quality, natural and sustainable materials which promote positive and challenging outdoor play, independence as well as interdependence, and resilience and stamina – both physical and psychological.
The rationale behind our vision
Children’s engagement with the outdoors has been the focus of recent surveys which highlight that:
- 74% of children in the UK spend less time outdoors that the 60minutes recommended for prison inmates.
- Today’s children have a largely screen-based lifestyle, with just 21% regularly playing outside compared with 71% of their parents*
There is a growing body of evidence to suggest that children are fast becoming disconnected from the natural world: as fears for safety (of all sorts) and the lure of technology keeps children indoors, they are missing out on that direct experience of the natural world which many older people (without romanticising our childhoods) had access to as children themselves – what one author calls a ‘nature deficit disorder’. Everything we do at Ashley contributes to re-dressing this perceived imbalance. The impact of our children’s connection with the natural world could be even further embedded by creating a landscape for learning, a transformation of our outdoor spaces to enable our children to reconnect with the natural world in a sensory-rich way.
We'd appreciate parent views to help us design our outdoor spaces.
Over the next 18 months, we will be working closely with OPAL to develop our playtimes at Ashley. Their structured programme will enable us to ensure that the 20% (or 1.4) years of our children's primary school experience of playtimes is creative, self-directed and positive. A very productive audit meeting was recently held, with two parents in attendance, which clearly highlighted steps which we need to take to realise our vision.
We look forward to continue working alongside OPAL and our school community on a project that will have an enormous impact, not only on our children's playtimes but also in the classroom. outdoorplayandlearning.org.uk