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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 £65k 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.”
Liz Mahindru is the Head Teacher at Merrylee Primary. She said:
“I was thrilled to have the opportunity to be involved in developing the first natural play site within a school campus in the UK.
“With the new school being built, the timing was ideal and our whole community had the chance to be part of something that could revolutionise the way our children play and interact with each other. The pupils drove the project and working with a parent landscape architect, their design aspiration became a reality.
“It’s been a real partnership approach with a whole range of stakeholders including pupils, staff, parents, friends & the wider community. Their support and determination has made this possible, resulting in the creation of a fantastic new space that all pupils of Merrylee will be able to enjoy for years to come.”
Notes to news editors
1. Forestry Commission Scotland works as the Scottish Government's forestry directorate www.forestry.gov.uk/scotland.
Tha FCS ag obair mar bhuidheann-stiùiridh coilltearachd Riaghaltas na h-Alba agus a' riaghladh nan 660,000 heactairean ann an Oighreachd na Coille Nàiseanta, a' dìonadh, a' cumail smachd air agus a' leudachadh nan coilltean gus buannachdan a thoirt dha coimhearsnachdan, an eaconamaidh agus, ag obair an aghaidh atharrachadh gnàth-shìde. www.forestry.gov.uk/scotland
Airson agallamhan anns a' Ghàidhlig, cuiribh fios gu Oifigear Leasachaidh Gàidhlig a' Choimisean, Louise NicBheathain air 01463 725 038
3. Media enquiries to Steve Williams, Forestry Commission Scotland press office 0131 314 6508.