Innovative natural play area trialled at a Glasgow primary school reduces accidents and bullying

The play area allows children a natural space with hills, valleys, willow tunnels and a rope bridge

An innovative new natural play area trialled at a Glasgow primary school has been hailed as a remarkable success, with a 94% reduction in accidents and bullying since its introduction in 2009.

The £65,000 investment by Glasgow City Council and Forestry Commission Scotland (FCS) - as part of the Woods for Health Strategy - saw the installation of a natural space at Merrylee Primary School in the South Side of Glasgow.

It allows children a natural space with hills, valleys, willow tunnels and a rope bridge – and has already illustrated that engagement with natural spaces has a positive impact on learning and wellbeing.

An independent report, commissioned by FCS, showed that the school has seen a marked decrease in bullying and pupil segregation and an increase in physical activity levels.

Hugh McNish from the Commission’s Central Scotland Conservancy said: “As an organisation, we are keen to promote the great outdoors to young people and to showcase the benefits and the fun that can be had by exploring them and enjoying what they have to offer.

“This play area was an ideal project for us. It has given the children opportunities to play in a new way, which is great for those pupils who don’t enjoy football or tarmac based activities. The children now interact far more, which helps to break down barriers, and this has led to a marked decrease in bullying that is being reported.

“The report confirms that the natural play area has been instrumental in the consequent success of the pupils not only in the classroom but in their general wellbeing, too, and that’s really what we’re trying to promote.”

More about Forestry Commission Scotland at www.forestry.gov.uk/scotland

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