High Praise From Longview Primary School, Merseyside

ESP are delighted to have just received an email from the head teacher of Longview Primary school in Knowsley, Merseyside, who have just received installation of 2 large pergolas and a range of playground furniture items. The school are delighted with the items and commented on the professionalism of our installation staff. We are always grateful for the feedback from schools, it makes the hard work extremely rewarding.

 

Dear Nick… Just a short note to thank you and your team for the installation of two large shaded pergolas with seating and planters at Longview School. We are really pleased with the pergolas and would especially like to mention your installation team who were fantastic, totally professional and a credit to the company.  Nothing was too much trouble for them. Our personal thanks to you also for your prompt and personal attention. Many thanks once again.

Amanda Casey – Headteacher – Longview Primary

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Concerns Surrounding Activity Level – Our Response

Recent research reports have again shown growing concerns surrounding children’s physical activity level in school time. The report shows that the increasing numbers of children who are not participating in the required amount of physical activity is currently at a figure of 49%. This is remarkably high and it should set off alarm bells in the minds of the public health sector.

This serves as a healthy reminder of what Baroness Sue Campbell had to say back in January of this year. She confessed her worry for the ‘physical illiteracy’ of children as they progress into secondary school. She stated that many children felt overwhelmed with the sporting curriculum at secondary level due to the lack of proper physical education at primary school.

ESP have been discussing these concerns for years. Through independent research carried out by a number of UK universities, we proved that there was much room for improvements in the physical activity taking place in schools. We worked in partnership with Roehampton University and Leeds Metropoliton University at 163 schools in SW Essex to provide the necessary research to show the effectiveness of our own multi-skills playground markings. This research looked at the amount of activity taking place in school playgrounds and reported the changes in activity levels following the installation of our own multi-skills markings and CPD training. The reports showed a significant increase, proving that our multi-skills concepts were extremely effective throughout the whole school. Read our research evidence on play in schools for the full report.

Since these reports were released to the public, we have had many schools throughout the country take on board our concepts and implemented them into the school playground. One of our most popular products, the ‘multi-skills zone’ includes 5 playground markings and accompanying CPD training.

These expertly designed markings were specifically designed with multi-skills in mind and can be used to practice every single skill. They provide children with the context to learn and practice fundamental skills in an outdoor learning environment that is fun, creative and encouraging. It allows them to participate in a range of games and activities that are proven to improve gross motor skills applicable to all sports. Alongside pre-set games there is scope for creativity, allowing children to invent their own multi-skills games. Sustainability is vastly improved through CPD training, which is used to up-skill school staff with the knowledge for teaching multi-skills games to the children.

To find out more about our multi-skills concepts and how we can help improve the physical activity levels within your school playground, contact us today on 01282 434445.

 

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Tips & Advice On Safety Surfaces

It is a moral obligation to ensure your playground is safe and organisations such as RoSPA, BSI, NPFA and CAPT strongly recommend safety surfacing as a priority in any playground development. Certain standards are in place to ensure this and one of our most frequently asked questions is ‘what safety surface do I require?’ The answer to this question varies greatly and depends on a number of variables such as how high the play equipment is, what aesthetics you require and what budget you have in place. There are many types of safety surface, all with different properties, so at first glance it can be a confusing subject for our customers. We aim to reduce that confusion and make recommendations suited towards your needs.

When are safety surfaces required?

Sometimes safety surfaces are not required. Should the playground equipment be under 0.6m high, it is at a safe fall height and requires no particular surface. Some people prefer to include safety surfacing anyway, just to be extra cautious.

Any play equipment over the height of 0.6 metres is required to have a safe surrounding. This can include loose surfaces such as: bark, sand and rubber mulch or fixed surfaces such as grass matting, artificial grass or wetpour. While natural surfaces are lower in cost, they are much less durable and harder to maintain.

How much safety surfacing is required?

The quantity of safety surfacing also varies according to the play equipment in place and the height at which is it set. ESP use appropriate calculations to determine both the depth and the area of the surfacing required. We make recommendations based on standards set by RoSPA; our RoSPA trained design team know these standards inside out. We work hard to minimise costs wherever possible, without sacrificing on safety.

Safety surfaces from ESP

ESP provide a wide range of surfacing ideal for meeting safety standards and enhancing the welfare of the children. These include:

  • Wetpour – A rubber crumb bound together by resin to produce a fixed safety surface. 
  • Artificial Grass – More durable than natural grass and a generally softer landing surface. Some artificial grass is also good for sports.
  • Rubber Mulch – A loose fill surface made from rubber mulch, a much cleaner and durable alternative to wood chipping.
  • Grass Matting – A cost effective surface designed to add more grip and cushion to existing grass.

 

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From Playground Equipment To Playground Surfacing

ESP are expanding their services to include more playground surfacing options. This move sees the employment of more specialist surfacing staff on the ESP team who have experience in a wide range of surface installations and we are now happy to fully provide the following surfacing options:

Polymeric


A rubberised surface popular for a multitude of sports including 5-a-side football, netball, basketball tennis and more. Many schools choose to use this surface for use in multi-use games areas. The anti-slip paint ensures a safe grip while also making it available in a range of colours with a number of different markings.

Wetpour


Made from recycled tyres, wetpour is a resin bound rubber surface with a soft landing. It is very popular in early years settings due to its soft surface and excellent grip. Available in a range of colours so very well suited for themed playgrounds and for brightening up a dull area.

Artificial Grass


Available in a range of pile heights and thicknesses, our artificial grass can be used in a variation of settings from 3G sports pitches to natural looking garden areas. The underfoot feel is comparable to real life grass with an improved grip. It is the perfect alternative to real grass and incredibly realistic.

Rubber Mulch


A cleaner and drier alternative to wood chips; rubber mulch areas are made from chips of recycled rubber tyres. Weeds do not grow in rubber mulch unlike wood chips, and pests will not be attracted to it. It is an extremely safe landing surface so is perfect for use around high structures.

Resin Bound Gravel


Constructed from gravel and bound by resin, this surface is great for pathways and offers great aesthetics to any outdoor area.

Thermoplastic


All our playground markings are made from thermoplastic and come in a range of different colours. It offers a more durable and safe alternative to paint markings due to the anti-slip beading embedded into the surface. We offer a massive range of markings suitable for all manner of physical activities.

 

For more information on our range of safety surfacing, contact ESP today on 01282 43 44 45.

 

 

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5 Outdoor Learning Ideas

It has been suggested through extensive research, that pupils’ grades improve if they have taken part in outdoor learning at some point throughout their education. Can we afford to ignore these suggestions or should we be actively taking lessons outdoors? Unfortunately, this happens far less than it could. Maybe there aren’t enough suggestions in the curriculum; maybe there isn’t enough equipment in the playground; maybe school trips are too expensive.

This blog makes a number of suggestions on how to increase outdoor learning, many of them cost efficient.

1. Nature Based Outdoor Learning

The natural world is a great place to learn and play. Many subjects may be covered in a national park or a woodland area, such as: the recognition of specific plants or animals, the structure and life of a tree, materials of the natural world, and more.

Additionally the children are encouraged to use social skills, communication, team work and co-operation. As they work together to collect and discover objects, they share ideas, presenting their own findings to the rest of the class. This form of outdoor learning has been known to inspire confidence in children who might usually be more introverted, while calming down those who are unruly.

Through nature, children are taught to respect and care for the world around them by growing plants, feeding animals, clearing litter and much more. In an age where recycling and sustainable resources are becoming increasingly encouraged, it is important to introduce these factors early on in life. Children need to know why they should not litter and why it is important to recycle.

There are woodlands and natural parks in every part of the country; a trip to one of these can be a cost effective and exciting day out. The amount of discovery that can take place at a nature reserve is extremely high, and children are able to learn much more by spending a day there, than they would sat in a classroom reading text books.

Many schools are now creating their own natural play areas inside the school grounds. ESP have designed a number of ‘forest schools’ throughout the country and have installed items from our natural play range, which features products such as bird tables, hedgehog boxes and ladybird towers as well as planters, growing boxes and digging pits. These products are perfect for encouraging outdoor learning on a daily basis.

2. Multi-Skills Learning and Playground Games

Taking lessons into the outdoors and combining them with fun and physical activity is a great way to increase the effectiveness of teaching. Through kinaesthetic learning, children feel the effects of physical activity while utilising their brain power to process important curriculum lessons.

There are countless possible games that can be used to to teach the curriculum. Even a simple 1-100 number grid playground marking presents hundreds of opportunities for mathematics problem solving while getting the heart racing. The children won’t even realise the amount of information they are processing as they take part in various fun and games.

One of the biggest benefits of multi-skills training is the contribution towards improved motor skills such as catching, throwing, running, walking, balancing and more. Skills which are absolutely essential for success in sporting activities. Unfortunately, these skills are often skipped and children are thrown in at the deep end as far as sport is concerned. How can children be expected to effectively dribble a ball across a pitch and put it in the back of the net if they havent even learned how to run properly? Schools are certainly taking all this on board and our multi-skills packages are becoming increasingly popular.

3. Educational Playground Equipment

Some schools have chosen to take lessons outdoors by providing children with education-based playground equipment. These items provide children with a fun and exciting context to learn, practise and record curriculum learning. It is important to let the children leave the confines of the indoor classroom as often as possible. Not only is learning improved, but health and well being is increased.

ESP provide a wide range of subject specific play equipment for outdoor learning, such as: the maths play range which helps with problem solving, counting and plotting; the science range which includes products based on the weather, measuring and nature; the music range which introduces children to rhythm, timing and melody; and the nature range, which we have already discussed.

 4. Outdoor Classrooms

An outdoor classroom can be used in just the same way as a traditional indoor classroom but with the additional benefit of being outdoors. Shelters may contain seating, chalkboards, dry wipe boards, game boards and much more. This means that most activities that can be done indoors can also be done outdoors, so why not take every opportunity to give children the joy of outdoor learning?

Not only is an outdoor classroom useful for taking lessons outdoors, but it also provides children with an area to relax, socialise, wait for parents and shield from the weather.

We manufacture and install outdoor classrooms in all shapes and sizes. Take a look at our playground shelters for information on how we can build the perfect shelter for you.

5. Creative Play

The outdoors is a great place for children to flex their creativity. Fresh air and the sound and look of nature are perfect elements for enlightening inspiration. There are also many natural resources that lend themselves towards creativity whilst most outdoor learning areas are great for imaginative role-play.

Storytelling and roleplaying works wonders at bringing children together and cooperating with one another. These social benefits improve behaviour, while increasing the confidence of quiet children and giving more energetic children an outlet for their energy.

The effects that creative play has on other subjects is fairly obvious. Creative thinking can be applied not only to play time but also to English, Drama, Art and Music lessons. It allows children to ‘think outside the box’ and create things that are unique. As a result of their own creations, they are filled with happiness and a feeling of success.

ESP offer lots of creative play equipment aimed at providing children with additional areas for using their imagination including: items for den building, such as wigwam posts; roadway playground markings; play huts for role play; and much more.

Is your school active in encouraging outdoor learning?

As you have seen from this post, there are so many activities for outdoor learning. They need not cost much, and its up to you to use your imagination as much as it is up to the children to use theirs.

ESP are constantly researching and finding new ways to take the curriculum outdoors. We keep ourselves as up to date as possible, creating unique future classics and designing new products to suit the times.

Further Reading on the benefits of outdoor learning.

More details on evidence of improved learning from outdoor learning can be found at the following resource on the Education Scotland Website.

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