The future of school playgrounds

This article discusses the importance of school playgrounds, the impact of COVID-19 on them, and how they might look in the future.

Published: October 29, 2020

The COVID-19 pandemic impacted the education of over 1.5 billion children around the world when schools were forced to close their gates and teach online. Being unable to play with their peers in the lock-down undoubtedly took a serious toll on kids.

Now that schools are open, learning and play are having to evolve in order to be Covid-secure. This article discusses how school playgrounds (and schools themselves) might look going forward.

Why does the school playground matter?

The school playground provides an extension of the school and is a place where kids can come together to play and interact. Children generally don’t do well cooped up indoors all day and need to get outside to re-energise. The school playground provides a valuable space for kids to mix and work on their social skills. It also increases their connection with the environment, reduces screen time, enables them to take part in exercise, and more.

By creating an outdoor environment where children can regularly interact in an unstructured way, they’re also more likely to focus on academic tasks when they return to the classroom. Skills that kids practise in the playground can also provide a valuable foundation for techniques they’ll need as adults, e.g. collaborating and decision-making.

How are school playgrounds likely to look moving forward?

Social distancing is a key part of the Government’s strategy in minimising the spread of the virus. Schools are supporting this as far as possible, teaching students in ‘bubbles’ and trying to minimise group interaction.

There are some interesting ideas about how schools could use outdoor spaces whilst the threat of the virus still exists. For example, the Scandinavian ‘forest school’ model might become more popular – encouraging kids to spend more time outdoors at all times of the year. Schools are unlikely to be able to extend their indoor square footage overnight, so for some schools their outdoor spaces might become more valuable than ever.

Countries like Australia use covered outdoor learning areas (COLAs), and this could offer UK schools a practical solution to social distancing and maximising their teaching square footage. Denmark is another country embracing outdoor learning, using pop-up classrooms in school grounds with marquees and portable washrooms that would normally be used at festivals!

Teaching children outside, where possible, also improves ventilation due to the increased air flow and open space.

Playground shelters and school canopies

Using playground shelters and canopies provides a practical solution for maximising your school’s outside space – regardless of the weather.

Our flexible leasing agreements mean you can gain this equipment with no upfront costs. You can also choose an an annual, quarterly or termly agreement, to suit your needs. Our lease is designed specifically for the education sector and is IAS17 compliant. We also offer mobile hand washing stations which can be located exactly where you need them!


Does your school want to find out about playground shelters and canopies to maximise your outside space? Contact our friendly team!


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