Inspire the Next Olympians With Playground Sports Equipment

Children's wellbeing

Big sporting events, like the Tokyo Olympic Games, lead many youngsters to dream of being a world-class sportsperson. While few will achieve those dizzy heights, many others will be inspired to take part, finding a life-long passion for sport and adopting a healthier lifestyle in the process. To keep those dreams alive, schools need to provide children with the opportunity to take part. With that in mind, here are some of the best playground sports equipment available today.

Sports surfacing

Providing opportunities to take part in playground sports, whether in PE lessons or during play, starts with great surfacing. Replacing tired, asphalt surfaces that are worn and patchy with resin-bound gravel makes them easier and safer to play on. For sports that require grass surfacing, such as soccer, rugby, lawn tennis and so forth, moving to artificial grass can make life so much easier. Artificial grass doesn’t need cutting or weeding, it doesn’t get boggy and slippery in wet weather and it doesn’t dry out and go patchy in the summer. It stays perfect to do sports all year round, ensuring learning and training can continue uninterrupted.

Sports markings

Inexpensive, long-lasting and quick and easy to install, sports markings can transform a blank playground surface into a range of clearly marked out sports pitches, courts and training areas that can be used for both PE and play.

There are a variety of pitch and court markings, including those for football, netball, tennis, rounders and cricket. For those with smaller playground spaces, you can even have a multi-court, where different colours are used to create different pitches in the same space. You can even get multi-sport accessories to match, such as a football goal with a basketball net attached.

As for training, there are a wide variety of multi-skills markings available, including fast-feet steppers, target trainers, grid squares and even a purpose-built multi-skill zone.

Create your own MUGA

A dedicated Multi-Use Games Area or MUGA can transform your sports facilities, expanding your PE and extracurricular provision and providing children with far more opportunities to learn and take part in new sports.

If you are looking to create a MUGA, the team at ESP Play can help you design one that meets your needs. We’ll help you choose the best place to locate the area at your school and how to arrange things within the space to fulfil your requirements. We’ll help find the right solutions for surfacing and marking and explain the best accessory equipment to ensure you fully equip your outdoor sports facilities, for example, with things like ball walls, multi goals, wall targets, fitness markings and so forth.

Outdoor gyms

Whether you’re looking to inspire the next Olympic weightlifting champion or just want to give children the opportunity to increase their strength and fitness, the AllGo+ Gym is the ideal playground solution. With children lifting nothing more than their own body weight, it is safe enough for school use but provides a full suite of fitness equipment to enhance the development of every muscle group in the body.

Self-contained within its own, attractive octagonal area, professionally surfaced and laid out, it provides gym equipment that can be used widely in PE and even during supervised playtimes. Suitable for pupils over 1.4m (4ft. 6) tall, the gym includes pull-up bars, monkey bars, multi-height circle steps and press-up bars, level and inclined sit-up benches, step-ups, leg raisers and fitness markings for agility and balance. For health and safety purposes, every element is labelled and displays clear instructions about the exercises it is to be used for and the correct and safe way to do them.

A Daily Mile track

A British initiative, the Daily Mile has been taken up by over 12,000 schools in 84 countries and now has over 3 million children running, walking and wheel-chairing a mile every day. Designed to improve general health, fitness and wellbeing, as well as tackle issues like childhood obesity, it’s also inspired many youngsters to take up long distance sports. Who knows, the next David Weir, Mo Farah or Paula Radcliffe could be amongst them?

With many schools not having enough space for a full-length daily mile route, the solution of choice for many is to install a Daily Mile track that they can do laps of around the school. Providing a suitable track surface ensures that all members of the school community can take part, including wheelchair users, while providing the ideal training conditions for those who want to take the sport more seriously.

Conclusion

The UK has a long tradition of producing world-class sportspeople and for this to continue, the children of today need the inspiration and opportunities to take part in a wider range of sports activities. Equipping your playground ensures this can happen while also enabling everyone to participate in healthy activities.

For more information about ESP Play outdoor sports equipment and more, visit our Products page.

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Sport Premium Survey – How Double Funding Has Affected Schools

In July, the Department for Education released the findings of a major survey looking at the impact of the Primary PE and Sport Premium. Over 3,000 schools took part in the survey which sought to discover how the premium has been used and what its effects have been since the amount was doubled in 2017. In this post, we’ll look at some of the main findings of the survey.

Who decides how the premium is spent?

The general response is that the decisions on how to spend the sport premium are shared by a number of stakeholders. While the headteacher, unsurprisingly, is involved in 78% of decisions, the majority of schools also involve senior leaders (58%) and other teachers (51%). School governors (41%) also play a significant role. Pupils and business managers each take part in 33% of schools whereas parents are only involved in 6% of decisions.

Most useful sources of advice

Schools were asked where they got advice on how to best use their premium and were then asked to rank the top three sources. Those considered as giving the most useful guidance were local PE and sports networks (58%), other primary schools (40%), coaches and sports companies (29%). The least useful were governors (3%), Sport England (9%), local authorities (10%) and the Association for PE (10%). Other frequently used sources included local secondaries, the Youth Sport Trust, the County Sport Partnership and DfE guidance.

Limited increase in curriculum time

The impact of the doubling of the sport premium has had a minimal impact on how much curriculum time is devoted to PE in primary schools. In almost two-thirds of schools, there has been no increase whatsoever across either Key Stage 1 or 2. Only 8% of schools have added an extra hour or more of PE to the timetable and just over a fifth of schools (23% in KS1 and 22% in KS2) have increased time by up to half an hour.

How money is spent on the PE curriculum

The spending of the extra sport premium funding on curricular PE generally falls into three categories. Around a quarter of schools use it on introducing new PE activities, another quarter use it to enhance the quality of existing provision (e.g., more teachers, extended sessions and teaching deeper skills), while the remaining schools have done a mixture of both.

Interestingly, those schools with the highest proportion of FSM students were more likely to introduce new PE activities while larger primaries were more inclined to improve the quality of provision.

Extracurricular spending

The use of the sport premium for extracurricular activities differed significantly to how it was spent on curriculum PE. Here, 33% of schools had used it specifically to introduced new types of sports activity with 54% using it for a mix of new and existing activities. Surprisingly, only 9% have focused on enhancing the quality of the extracurricular sporting activities since 2016/17.

Equipment top of the shopping list

The survey also asked schools to submit details of the specific things that they did with the funding. Top of the list was investment in new equipment, something 92% of schools used part of their funding for. This was followed by training existing staff (88%), increasing extracurricular sport (83%) and increasing physical activity across the school day (75%). Other popular areas of spending included increasing involvement with sport, transport to fixtures and employing sports coaches.

Perceived impact

Respondents to the survey were asked to give their views on how the doubling of the sports premium had impacted their school. Over half of all respondents believed that the profile of sport and PE had significantly improved while the percentage of pupils doing 30 minutes of physical activity per day had increased a lot in 42% of schools and a little in a further 40%. Similar increases were seen in the level of competitive sport being offered to pupils.

Most respondents thought all children benefitted from increased physical exercise, be that in curriculum PE (66% of respondents), extracurricular sport (73%) or sports competitions (63%). The children seen to have benefitted most through increased participation were children with SEND (42% of respondents) and FSM/PP students (41%). There was no difference between boys and girls.

Key priorities for future spending

Health and wellbeing are clearly the most important priorities for schools when it comes to investing the sport premium in the future. By far the most popular responses (both 50%) were finding better ways to engage the least active children and to reduce obesity and promote active lifestyles.

Other important priorities were upskilling staff, using PE to improve whole school development and providing more extracurricular and competitive sports. Although increasing activity levels is the top priority, by contrast, only 13% of schools wanted to use the premium to extend curricular PE time.

Conclusion

The Primary PE and Sport Premium survey has produced some interesting results about how the new double funding has been used and its impact. Overall, it seems to have brought a general improvement in curricular and extracurricular provision though this is limited and inconsistent. Hopefully, the results of the survey can assist other schools to use their sport premium more effectively.

If you are looking for better ways to invest your funding, take a look at our Sport Premium page.

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How to Design an EYFS Playground

Giving children the opportunity to participate in free play has been shown to accelerate their development, helping them learn important new skills and widening their understanding of the world. For nurseries and EYFS providers, one way you can facilitate and encourage free play is to design your outdoor spaces in a way that motivates children to participate. In this post, we’ll look at the best ways to design your EYFS playground.

Principles of EYFS playground design

When creating your EYFS play area you’ll need to provide a variety of stimulating activities which cater for a range of needs and which offer children the opportunity to develop their cognitive, physical, social, and creative skills. The most successful way of achieving this is designing an outdoor space with different free play areas or zones.

Designing in this way allows you to better manage the activities that take place in each zone. It also improves safety, as activities that can be hazardous when taking place in the same space can be kept apart. An additional benefit of a zoned playground is that adults need to intervene less, enabling the children to focus on the play that’s so important to their development.

Common types of EYFS free play zone

There is no set rule about the types of zones you should create in your playground. Indeed, your choices may be dependent on the children you cater for, the nature of the space you have available and your budget. Here, however, are some of the most popular EYFS zones we create for our customers.

1. Active play zone

Physical activity encourages children to play together and thus creates opportunities to develop social skills. At the same time, the physical activity, in itself, helps to develop physical skills while improving fitness. EYFS active play zones are often kitted out with popular pieces of equipment. These include play towers, especially those that have slides, climbing nets, ropes and bridges, and low-height, Trim Trail obstacle course equipment.

These structures can be Interspersed with a range of fun playground markings, such as the mini roadway, which comes complete with road signs, roundabouts and zebra crossings.

2. Creative zones

Outdoor Playground Music Equipment

Developing children’s creativity is fundamental to bringing on their social and cognitive skills and this makes the creative zone a key part of the EYFS playground. Schools and nurseries are spoiled for choice when it comes to choosing creative playground equipment. Designed to help children explore their imaginations in safe but unstructured ways, these include body-warping mirrors, log bridges and tunnels, play huts, shop kiosks, wigwams and wooden trains. Add a box of props and costumes and, suddenly, your playground can become anywhere their imagination takes them.

For more artistic pursuits, there are also a range of painting, drawing and mark-making tables available, as well as stand up panels. One of the most popular creative pieces is the outdoor musical orchestra - composed of a range of fun to play on, no-skills-necessary, musical instruments. These include musical chimes, drainpipe drums, washboards and xylophones.

3. Sand, mud and water zones

Tactile materials such as sand, mud and water are ideal for children as they can be played with in so many different ways. From making sand castles and moats to baking mud pies, they are not only great fun, they also encourage kids to play together while letting children learn how these materials can be used, manipulated and combined. Water and sand play equipment lets you create the ultimate sensory play area for EYFS and with mud kitchens, splash pools and even magnetic water walls to choose from, there’s an opportunity to create one of the most popular zones in your playground.

4. Nature area

Putting a nature zone in your nursery or EYFS playground fulfils two important functions. Firstly, it creates a quiet space where children can be calm and relaxed and, secondly, it provides the opportunity for children to develop a love of and appreciation for nature.

Quiet outdoor spaces can be beneficial for children who feel anxious or upset and need to get away from the busier areas. When this happens in a green space, that calming effect can be even better. Quiet spaces are also ideal places where the whole group can sit in the sunshine and listen to stories being read to them.

A nature zone can be created through the purchase of wooden planters and trellises. These can be used to section off the space from the rest of the playground and can be filled with flowers, climbers and shrubs. You can then use butterfly boxes, insect habitats, ladybird towers and bird tables to encourage bugs and birds to visit – giving children access to their very own mini nature reserve. There’s a wide range of nature equipment you can use to make your nature zone enchanting for younger children.

5. Use the right surfacing

With little people doing so many different activities it’s important that you remember to include playground surfacing when creating your design. Sometimes, it’s a good idea to use different surfaces for each zone so that the children get the most benefit. A nature zone, for example, will want to be lawned, whereas an active play zone is perhaps best served by a cushioned, wetpour surface. With artificial grass, block paving, grass matting, resin bound gravel, rubber mulch and wetpour surfacing all available, there is a solution for every zone you may want.

Conclusion

EYFS free play equipment enables every youngster to learn while they play. The most effective way to put it to good use is by creating a zoned playground where there are discrete areas for specific activities. This helps to keep children safe while providing the stimulus they need to participate and learn. For more information about our range of EYFS playground equipment, visit our products page or call us on 01282 43 44 45.

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Top 10 Playground Markings for EYFS

A great deal of the learning that takes place during early years education is done through play. This post will look at a selection of playground markings that are both fun for young children to play on but which also help them with a range of basic skills. Covering literacy, numeracy, time, direction, weather and road safety, here are our top ten playground markings for EYFS.

1. Alpha Clock Target

The multi-purpose alpha clock target is ideal for taking literacy and numeracy outdoors to help children learn the alphabet, basic numbers and the position of the hours on an analogue clock. It can also be used for throwing practice and to develop coordination skills.

There are numerous games that can be devised for this marking, such as standing in the centre and throwing bean bags towards a letter or getting children to run around the circle and when someone shouts for them to stop, they call out the number they land on.

2. Mathematical Number Grid

Installing a mathematical number grid playground marking is a great way to help children learn to count up to 100 and discover the relationship between numbers. There are lots of games that can be played on the grid, such as stepping up in multiples, standing on odds and evens, counting on using dice – you can even chalk on some snakes and ladders.

3. The Offset-Stepper

The offset stepper combines traditional hopscotch with number learning and physical agility. Children can count up to and down from 12 in single or multiple numbers, having to hop, jump, step and side shuffle as they go.

4. Phonetic Spots

Using some of the most common phonetic letter combinations, the fun phonetic spots marking is a great way to begin to teach basic reading skills. Just get the children to land on a spot and shout out the correct sound. Once they have mastered individual sounds, stand on two spots and combine them. For more advanced games, stand on a spot and say a word that has the sound in it.

5. Roadway

The roadway is a large marking that is excellent for getting children participating in role play as it creates a road system in your playground that children can take journeys on. It can include parking bays, a petrol station, a roundabout, shops and zebra crossings.

Aside from creative play, it is also useful for teaching road safety. Children can learn the safe places to cross a road, how to stop, look and listen and find out which side of the road traffic travels on - all in the safety of the playground.

6. Weather Symbols & Days

winter weather

Featuring the days of the school week (Monday to Friday) and the weather symbols for sunshine, rain, cloud and snow, the weather playground marking is a good way to help children to recognise the spellings of the days of the week and learn about different types of weather.

7. Compass Multi-marking

The compass multi-marking enables children to learn the basic compass points, north, south, east and west, together with the more advanced directions, NE, SE, SW and NW. The compass points are installed accurately in playgrounds so that children can use them to learn about their environment. For example, they can discover that the canteen is to the north and the exits are to the south. They can even use it to look at things like the way the sun travels through the sky during the day or to find clues in a playground treasure hunt.

8. Compass Hopscotch

Another compass variation is the compass hopscotch marking. Aside from learning the compass points, pupils can practice their knowledge by being asked to follow directions as they play the game, for example, start at the south, then head west.

9. Footwork Vowels

This literacy-focused marking is designed to help children learn the vowels, a key skill needed when they start to read. It can be used for games where children call out a vowel so that their friends have to stand on it or for teachers to call out vowels in rapid succession so that the children have to step quickly to keep up. This is also a great marking to help with balance and agility.

10. Letter Stepper

The letter stepper marking lets children follow the alphabet all the way from A to Z and learn different colours as they go. As a stepper, it’s good for developing balance and can be used in a range of fun ways that combine literacy and numeracy, for example, step on every second letter and call it out or find the letters of your name and count how many letters it has.

Conclusion

As you can see, our top ten EYFS playground markings don’t just provide opportunities for lots of fun, they can also help children learn about letters, sounds, numbers, directions, time, days of the week and weather types. In addition, they can be used to bring on physical skills such as balance, coordination and agility as well as fostering social skills as the pupils learn to play together.

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5 Sustainable Ways to Invest Your School Sport Premium

The government’s commitment to fund the School PE and Sport Premium only lasts until 2020 and unless this is extended, schools have only two more years to benefit from the additional income this generates. With this in mind, it’s more important than ever to spend the funding in a way that has long-term benefits. In this post, we’ll look at five ways you can invest your School Sport Premium for the future.  

What is the School Sport Premium?

The School PE and Sport Premium is an initiative which delivers ring-fenced funding to English primary schools to help them improve PE and sport provision. Schools with over 17 pupils receive an £8,000 lump sum plus an additional £5 per pupil, while those with fewer than 17 get £500 per pupil.

This is a generous figure for cash-strapped schools and, used wisely, can make a huge difference. There are, however, conditions which need to be met: the money has to be spent on additional and sustainable improvements to PE and sports provision, it has to benefit all pupils and encourage them to lead more active and healthy lifestyles.

Investing for sustained improvement

Using the funding in a way which meets the conditions for which it is given can be a challenge. To achieve ‘sustained improvement’ means spending it on something that will have an impact over the long term. Perhaps the best examples of things which can achieve this are training staff so they can teach additional sports or skills in the future, or by purchasing equipment that can be used for many years and which encourages more children to participate. With this in mind, here are five suggestions to consider.

An overview of Sports Premium Funding

Set to run until 2020, the Primary PE and Sports Premium is a £150 million per annum initiative designed to improve the provision of PE and sport in schools throughout England. During the initiative, any school with more than 17 pupils aged five to eleven receives £8,000 a year plus £5 per pupil. Those with fewer than 17 on roll, receive £500 per pupil.

Requirements of Sports Premium Funding

The key stipulation of the initiative is that funding must be spent on additional and sustainable improvements to the provision of PE and sport and that these must be for the benefit of all pupils to encourage them to lead healthy, active lifestyles.

In other words, the money a school receives has to add to or improve PE and sports provision and do so in a way that benefits all pupils over the long term.

To ensure that the funding is spent as instructed, schools may be asked to provide evidence to inspectors that shows the impact of the Sports Premium on PE and sports provision and how this has improved pupil health and activity levels.

How can you spend your Sports Premium Funding?

There are quite a few ways you can use the funds, here are some of the main ones:

  • purchase equipment that extends provision or encourages activity
  • introduce new sporting or physical activities to encourage wider pupil participation
  • train existing teachers to deliver new sports or improve existing skills
  • hire specialist coaches to work alongside teaching staff
  • run extracurricular clubs and activities for the least active children
  • host sporting competitions, including interschool events

1. Install a Daily Mile Track

Daily Mile Tracks - School Sports Premium

The Daily Mile Challenge is a new project that aims to tackle inactivity and obesity by getting all pupils to complete a daily, one-mile circuit at school. Unlike cross country, this is more of a social activity, where children can run, jog or walk at their own pace with their friends. Taking around 15 minutes out of the school day, it has become increasingly popular with over 3000 UK schools taking part. It has also been taken up in many other countries.

Investing your School Sport Premium in a Daily Mile track can bring sustainable improvements in provision for all pupils, including the least active. Taking part can help the pupils improve their physical and mental health and their social and emotional wellbeing. Regular exercise can also help with behaviour, concentration and even attainment.

2. Kit out your playground with outdoor sports equipment

Primary schools often have little in the way of PE resources, one of the main reasons being a lack of storage space. One way to get around this is to provide permanently erected, outdoor sports equipment in the playground.

Outdoor equipment doesn’t need storage space and it can be used for a variety of purposes: PE lessons, extracurricular sporting activities and for active play during lunch and break times. In this sense, its impact is sustained in terms of how it is used throughout the school day and over the years that it remains fit for use.

Typical examples of sports equipment include basketball and netball hoops, goals (with either nets or recesses), freestanding ball catchers and ball walls for practising football, tennis and cricket. If you are short of space, you can even install multi-sports equipment, such as our combined football - hoop units which are ideal for football, hockey, netball and basketball.

3. Get some proper sports surfacing

Primary schools often have little in the way of PE resources, one of the main reasons being a lack of storage space. One way to get around this is to provide permanently erected, outdoor sports equipment in the playground.

Outdoor equipment doesn’t need storage space and it can be used for a variety of purposes: PE lessons, extracurricular sporting activities and for active play during lunch and break times. In this sense, its impact is sustained in terms of how it is used throughout the school day and over the years that it remains fit for use.

Typical examples of sports equipment include basketball and netball hoops, goals (with either nets or recesses), freestanding ball catchers and ball walls for practising football, tennis and cricket. If you are short of space, you can even install multi-sports equipment, such as our combined football - hoop units which are ideal for football, hockey, netball and basketball.

4. Mark out your existing playground for more sports

Playground markings offer a practical and affordable way to extend the number of sports and activities you provide. There is a wide range of sports playground markings available, including football, futsal (5-a-side football), tennis, netball, rounders, cricket and basketball.

These markings can be installed on most hard surfaces, provided they are in reasonable condition, enabling your school playground to double up as an outdoor sports facility while providing pupils with new pitches to play on during their free time.

For schools with small playgrounds, an ideal solution is to install multicourt markings. A multicourt is a single space over which there are markings for futsal, netball and basketball.

5. Install a multi-skill zone

A multi-skills zone meets all the criteria that the School Sports Premium stipulates. With long lasting markings and all year availability, they can be used during lessons, for extra-curricular activities or for playground games.

Their versatility enables more pupils to benefit from them, giving increased opportunity to develop key physical skills such as agility, balance, coordination, stability and physical awareness and sporting skills such as footwork, jumping, throwing and ball skills.

There is a diverse selection of multi-skills markings to choose from, enabling schools to create zones tailored for their specific needs. These include the ‘Famous Five’ multi-skills markings (ideal for working with groups on a range of different skills), a multi-skills circle, agility ladder and trainer trail. There are many more to choose from.

Conclusion

The School Sports Premium is an opportunity to invest in the long-term provision of sports and PE in your school. The ideas we have provided here enable schools to deliver new and additional provision that we think will offer sustainable improvements in your school and which can benefit all pupils, including the least active.

For more information, take a look at our School Sport Premium page or call us on 01282 43 44 45.

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