Recent figures from The Department For Education show that one school playing field is sold off every three weeks since the coalition was formed. That amounts to 57 playing fields since May 2010. The figures also show that the rate of sell off is accelerating, probably as a result of increasing financial pressure being felt by schools.
Open space is not only an essential prerequisite for the provision of a broadly balanced PE curriculum: it is also vitally important to give children a connection with the outdoors. As a nation we no longer seem to value the ‘great’ outdoors and our children are growing up estranged from the natural world. More and more young people are locking themselves away inside with only screens and devices for company. Obesity and depression are rising amongst adolescents, whose sense of community is also diminishing.
If we are to reverse these trends, and raise a generation of children who are healthy with a genuine concern for their environment, it is essential that schools’ infrastructure encourages a closeness with nature. A spokesman for the Department for Education insisted that it is made clear to schools selling their fields, that all proceeds must be put back into improving sports or educational facilities.
An extremely space efficient way to reinvest sale proceeds, whilst also preserving students’ association with their outdoor environment, is a Learning Escape eco-classroom. In a place where young minds are moulded, it’s important to create learning spaces that are both inspiring and motivating. Our eco-classrooms provide schools with a tranquil teaching environment, inspiring students as they connect with their natural surroundings. They are also having a proven effect on pupils’ concentration, self-discipline and behaviour. For example, research conducted amongst 21,000 students by the Heschong Mahone Group found that those with the most day lighting in their classrooms progressed 20 percent faster in mathematics and 26 percent faster 1n reading tests.
Not only does this connection with the great outdoors improve children’s ability to learn, it also enhances their quality of life and helps them become valued and integrated members of their community.