The Good School Playground, Learning through Landscapes

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A growing number of schools have recognised the potential of their grounds and are now providing outdoor spaces and experiences that support children’s learning and wellbeing. However, too many children are still growing up in dull and uninspiring playgrounds and missing out on these life-enhancing experiences.

The Scottish School Estate Strategy highlights a need for improved design and increased investment, with an ambition that designers make “the best use of school grounds and the outdoor spaces as an integral part of the learning environment ensuring that landscape design is at a par with building design.”

This guide has been written to help make that ambition a reality. It explores the links between school grounds and children’s health, wellbeing and learning and offers practical advice on how to develop the best school playgrounds.

It’s written for everyone who has an interest in how schools can provide the best school playground, that supports learning and a health-promoting environment for children and young people; whether you’re an architect designing a new school, a teacher tasked with improving your existing outdoor space or a parent looking for ways to provide practical help to your child’s school.

Some of the ideas in this guide might seem ambitious but many are simple, inexpensive and could be implemented almost immediately. There are also some suggestions in the Playground placemaking section for how you might make better use of your grounds as they currently are.

Whatever your budget or scale of ambition, our hope is that this guide will help you develop nurturing outdoor spaces and create memorable outdoor experiences that will help make your school the best place to grow up in.