With schools encouraging greater levels of learning in the outdoors, play and fitness supplier KOMPAN Australia says that playgrounds are increasingly being seen as multifunctional spaces that can be utilised outside of the traditional timeslots of recess and lunch.
KOMPAN is one of a number of organisations helping schools around Australia to create play spaces that are interesting, age-appropriate, stimulating and developmentally beneficial.
Schools recognise that the act of play – and therefore, playgrounds – play an important role in the mental, physical and social-emotional developments of their students. Gone are the days when schools looked to simply fill the maximum amount of surface area possible when choosing play equipment. Attitudes to play provision are maturing, and as a result, schools are looking to create stimulating, compliant play spaces filled with play value.
The emerging trend of learning in the outdoors is being encouraged by initiatives such as Outdoor Classroom Day, a global campaign that aims to inspire and celebrate playing and learning outside.
To cater to this trend, KOMPAN has developed the Robinia Play, Act and Learn range. Making use of the organic shapes and textures of Robinia wood, the equipment brings elements of creative, musical, dramatic and education play into the outdoors. This range is already proving popular for younger primary school students, kindergartens and early childhood providers looking to incorporate outdoor learning into their program.
Ipswich Grammar School in Southeast Queensland is one school that has taken a different approach to its playground design. After assessing options for a stimulating new play space for its all-boys junior school cohort, it opted for an intriguing combination of rope play, and climbing, agility and obstacle course elements. The resulting space, created and installed by KOMPAN in collaboration with Queensland local partner Urban Play, is a physically and mentally challenging space where boys can burn off their excess energy during breaks. “The climbing, hanging and jumping required on the nets, monkey bars and obstacle course is perfect for our boys,” says Head of Junior School, Mark Douglas. “The resulting core strength benefits also assist student learning back in the classroom through better posture control, coordination and fine motor control.”
Matched Funding Grant Program
As part of a new initiative, which is a first for the Australian playground industry, KOMPAN Australia recently launched its Matched Funding Grant Program for schools in Victoria and Western Australia.
The program aims to assist primary and secondary schools in creating their next great play or fitness space. “We’re really excited about the Grant Program,” says KOMPAN Australia Managing Director, Peter McKewen. “The program was trialled successfully by KOMPAN in European countries last year. We’re hugely passionate at KOMPAN Australia about the role that schools have to play in increasing the physical activity levels of their students, so when the opportunity arose to introduce the Matched Funding Grant Program here in Australia, we jumped at the chance to make our schools a priority for these grants.”
To enter, schools must describe their ultimate play or fitness space on the Matched Funding Grant Program web page. Entries will then be assessed and judged against a range of criteria (which can be viewed on the program’s terms and conditions page), and three matched funding grant recipients in both states will be announced. There will be two rounds of grants awarded (April and August), giving the opportunity for up to 12 schools across Victoria and Western Australia to have brand new playgrounds, agility trails or outdoor gyms before the year’s end.
“We’ve received some extremely high quality applications already,” says Mr McKewen. “We can’t wait to get started on helping some local schools create some incredible spaces for their students. It is our desire in 2020 to roll this grant program out to all of Australia.”
Other funding and grant programs
Schools seeking to improve student health, wellbeing and physical activity levels through the provision and/or upgrading of facilities and programs have a wealth of funding options to choose from. For example, the Federal Government’s $200 million Sporting Schools initiative is designed to help schools increase student participation in sport, with opening dates for applications each term.
Also emerging are innovative digital solutions to assist schools with managing and tracking grants and funding sources. The Grants Hub is an online portal that serves as a one-stop-shop for schools and community organisations to find, track and manage available grants.
Schools Plus is another platform which has a number of functions, the most interesting of which is its role as a fundraising medium – think of it as a GoFundMe or similar crowd funding website, but specifically for schools.
Schools in Victoria and Western Australia can enter KOMPAN Australia’s Matched Funding Grant Program by clicking here.
Ph: 1800 240 159