Playground Funding Assistance

Playground funding for your next development

Acquiring funding for your next play area development can be arduous which is why we have created a comprehensive playground funding assistance guide which will talk you through the various different options available to your school.

Getting some ideas together for how you want to transform your outdoor area is essential if you are to be successful in securing any financial contribution towards it. We have a vast range of products available to get you started but we also offer every school a completely FREE playground design service to show you how your dream play area could look. We can design schemes to suit any budget or specific requirements your school may have.

In addition to this we have just introduced our new Funding Bid Writing & Management Service where a member of our team will manage your application from start to finish to increase the likelihood of you securing the funding you need.

Our guide covers:


  • How to use ESP’s unique Funding Bid Writing and Management Service.
  • What products you can spend your Sports Premium Budget on.
  • Acquiring funding directly from ESP.


Continue to our full guide here…

the 5 best tips to develop your play area

5 Tips to Develop your Playground

There has never been a more important time for physical education (PE), school sport and health-related activity in schools. Research confirms that up to 50% of all seven year-olds do not get enough exercise and one in three young people leave primary school overweight or obese. From an early age, lifelong patterns of positive behaviour and involvement can be gained through participation in high quality physical activity and play.

Research proves that well designed outdoor play areas can help combat these issues and so we have put together out top 5 tips to develop your play area to help any school thinking about making a positive change.

Informal and structured physical activity is essential for the mental, physical, emotional and social development of every child. This type of activity develops fundamental movement skills and coordination skills, social skills linked to communication and language, and creativity and cooperation – all essential tools to aid successful learning in the curriculum and beyond.

It is very important to create an environment that offer sustainability. The facilities and knowledge of how to use the facilities correctly are the key to creating a positive whole school impact that is sustainable and cross curricular. That is why having the right playground is so important. Here are five key points to help maximise your playground space to inspire young people to undertake physical activity:


Tip 1. What is your objective? What are you trying to achieve with this investment?

Does the development of your playground form part of your school improvement plan? Is this investment recognised as a priority by the whole school and local community. To create a sustainable impact the school and community must have ownership and responsibility on how they will use this facility to add value to learning and the development of young people. Teachers must be able to identify and evidence how they will develop and improve the following points:


  • Participation in daily physical activity for every child
  • Leadership skills
  • Communication and language skills
  • Social skills
  • Team work
  • Fundamental movement skills
  • Achievement in Physical Education lessons


A needs analysis of your playground will help inform you of what improvements can be made. The analysis should focus on gathering and reviewing the information, consulting end users and key stakeholders, and establishing priority requirements. It is important that you are inclusive throughout the process and make a special effort to understand the requirements of children with special educational needs (SEN) and disabilities to incorporate these into your plan. Consider the following key questions: How well is the space used? Are there spaces between existing buildings that have always been under-utilised? What is it currently used for? Who is using it? Who is not using it? What would the pupils like it to be used for?


Tip 2. A School Playground should not be the same as a Community Park.

It is too easy to simply put a put a piece of equipment in a school playground and think job done. A community play park is to simply go and climb and school playground is a place to play but also learn at the same time. Learning should not just start at the classroom door, it should begin at the school gates. The outdoor resources available to schools offer a fantastic opportunity to take learning beyond the classroom. Ask yourself; does this equipment have any relevance and purpose to curriculum? Does it offer any wider benefits to just play? Can I evidence this equipment as adding value to the school improvement plan?

Any investment should yield a return. What educational return is your playground offering?


Tip 3. Team effort

Engaging the right people at this early stage will ensure they are committed to the project. The key stakeholders that should be consulted from the very start are: governors, headteachers, teachers, teaching assistants, lunchtime supervisors, parents and pupils. They can be consulted in a variety of ways including: meetings and class discussions; school sports council(s); playground committee; questionnaires; observation studies and pupil drawings.


Tip 4. Choose a qualified contractor that understands education

Appoint a qualified and knowledgeable contractor to work with you to check the feasibility of the components and configurations selected. Make sure they understand education and the purpose of your investment. Don be sucked into just picking equipment from a catalogue. Make sure the design is bespoke to your requirements and objectives.


Tip 5. Teacher Development

To make your investment sustainable you must ensure teachers, lunchtime supervisors, assistants and others understand how to use the playground for break and lunch time activities but more importantly how to benefit from the outdoor resource for curriculum time. Engage in an accredited CPD programme that supports the use of the playground across the curriculum.

Research confirms the following:


  • Children are better prepared for learning following participation in high quality physical activities
  • Children are less fidgety in class following participation in high quality physical activity
  • 80% of children are kinaesthetic learners
  • Development of Fundamental Movement skills improve confidence and movement competence and therefore increases participation
High Wind Alert, windy scene, playground alert for wind.

High Wind Alert

We are experiencing very high wind currently! These winds can cause problems for schools who have had large items of equipment installed. These include sail shades, shaded pergolas, shelters, play towers and ball catchers.

We are advising that during these high winds schools should be extra vigilant in their checks of the equipment they have had installed. Particular attention is advised for items as follows:

Ball catchers – please check the item is secure in the ground. That the top is not loose and all bolts and nuts are tightened. Please check that there is no excessive movement and if necessary take hold in the units pole and perform a vigorous check of the stability of the object. If there is any cause for concern please cordon off the area and contact ESP for further advise.

Sail Shades – we are advising schools to refer to their customer support pack as a reminder that we strongly advise the sails shades are removed in the winter months.

Pergolas and Shelters or play towers – perform visual check on the roof or shade to ensure no loose or moving parts are identified

If you are concerned about any element of your playground installation please contact ESP for advice.

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Natural Play Areas within Schools

Does your school encourage nature play?

Recent reports by RSPB have raised concerns over the current lack of connection between children and the natural world. These reports are as a result of important and extensive research about the amount of time children spend in natural environments.

The information collected from a sample of 1,200 children shows that only 21% are connected with nature on a level that is satisfactory. This was based upon questions answered in 4 specific areas: enjoyment of nature; empathy for creatures; sense of oneness; sense of responsibility.

For more information on this research, take a look at the RSPB report: “Connecting with nature”.


ESP and the provision of nature based play.

Connecting with nature should be part of a child’s daily life, whether that involves collecting leaves, feeding animals or planting seeds. ESP fully support the use of nature in the playground environment and through the inclusion of nature based playground equipment we help children connect with their natural surroundings.

Connecting children with nature has a number of important benefits towards the development of children, including:

  • Health and wellbeing – The outdoors encourages increased physical activity.
  • Education – A hands-on approach gives children a better understanding of nature and the world that surrounds them.
  • Personal and social skills – Nature inspires positivity, communication and group activity while giving children the opportunity to discuss their discoveries.

Our Nature Play range provides children with the equipment to investigate, explore and learn about their natural surroundings. Each product is designed to encourage children to nurture and care for the world around them; plant and watch seeds grow; feed and nurture different animals and present their findings to their friends.


Take a look at our 5 recommendations for natural play.

1)   Digging pits with trellis screens – Ideal for encouraging children to plant seeds and maintain their growth. The trellis screens allow climbing plants to thrive, creating beautiful aesthetics while teaching the children about the concepts of growth.

2)   Planter with Perspex panel – This large planter includes a transparent front, allowing children to witness root growth beneath the surface and watch their plants grow over time.

3)   Bird table – A classic. The bird table allows children to feed birds and encounter different species as they come and go.

4)   Butterfly box – This product attracts butterflies, keeps them warm and allows the children to see and inspect them in close proximity.

5)   Insect Habitat – Allows children to discover the amazing world of insects as they collect and discuss their findings

Call ESP today on 01282 43 44 45 to discuss how we can improve your schools connection with nature.
NHS Logo - Playground Equipment

NHS Invest In Schools

NHS south west Essex invested £5 per child for every child within their primary and secondary schools on an intervention from ESP focused on PE, physical activity and teacher development. This intervention was used as a preventative measure to combatting obesity within their local area.  The theory behind the investment from the NHS concluded that children were in the school playground every day and therefore it offered a tremendous opportunity to capture the imagination of young people and embed an appetite to participate in high quality daily physical activity.  This subtle approach enabled young people to participate without any inhibitions and enjoy the experience of play, multi-sports and a range of high quality physical activities.

ESP has spent years working in education; establishing strong effective links and positive evidence on how the school playground can play an important role in improving attainment; raising standards and promoting healthy high quality physical activity for every child.

Research confirms that if young people enjoy the experience of participating in PE and physical activities there is a very good chance they will enjoy a life-long participation in a healthy physical activity.

We believe that both playgrounds and staff act as catalysts for change. Appropriately trained staff within appropriate facilities can have an important positive impact on pupil perceptions of the value of activity and ultimately the amount of activity in which the children take part. Primary schools continue to report a need for support that allows them to develop their confidence and competence. They want to ensure that they continue to improve their knowledge and expertise in motivating pupils to be active and to help them to develop a range of physical skills which will prepare them for future active lives.

Teachers have routinely reported a positive impact on the range of activities undertaken by primary aged children using the ESP playground interventions.  Many now take part in different activities before, during and after school, suggesting that children have been introduced to activities previously not available. This allowed children to practice and master new skills.

Every child has a right to a physical education alongside a healthy lifestyle.  Physical education and sport is a very powerful tool and has the ability to change young people’s lives for the better. PE, sport and physical activity -if delivered properly – can support every step of a child’s development.

We work with schools throughout the UK and internationally in providing long lasting facilities and high quality teacher development programmes. The teacher training ensures that the expertise comes in-house and provides the professional development necessary to gain the knowledge and understanding on the application and effective use of the school playground.

We can work in partnership with your school to create a sustainable school improvement model and evidence where PE, high quality physical activity through the use of the playground can raise standards and make a real difference to the lives of young people.

Please call us on 01282 43 44 45 to discuss how we can work in partnership with your school.