Since 2016, Sint-Paul elementary school from Kortrijk has been working on the transformation of its classic concrete playground. In 2020, the new playground was constructed and since then the Climate Playground project has been receiving particular acclaim. Not only do people praise the way in which children, parents and external parties were involved, but also the way in which the teachers have committed themselves to the project is unique.
On the new playground, children get back in touch with nature.
Playing and learning come first. Thanks to a well-planned and sustainable project, the city school has succeeded in transforming its concrete surface into a stimulating play and learning landscape where nature for play, a large dose of learning impulses and biodiversity have found their place. The school is regarded as a good practical example in Flanders when it comes to softening school playgrounds.
The clever way in which the water management was handled, the creation of a fantastic play landscape and the fact that the playground is open after school is particularly inspiring. You can now see the children playing their own games in a wonderful way. Getting dirty is allowed, playing is necessary, discovering and learning is a must. Teaching now takes place even more in the open air and this creates an enormous wealth.
In recent years the teaching team has been encouraged to look over the wall. Through, among others, the Erasmus+ dossier ‘Playground and the outdoor classroom’ and ‘From Outdoor teaching to sustainability at school’, teachers of the school had the opportunity to experience ‘outdoor learning’ in practice in Italy, Austria, Finland and Scotland. In this way the team was trained to work according to the “Whole school approach” and principles of Education for Sustainable Development and STEAM were implemented in the teaching practice. All of this was introduced in an accessible way through the playground project.
Meanwhile, two teachers from the school have been trained through Learning Through Landscapes UK and are the first Belgian cooperants of this wonderful organization, which has been coaching schools and teachers in outdoor learning and playground design for 30 years.
In September 2020, the school also received a nice cherry on top. MOS Flanders and FEE (Foundation for Environmental Education) rewarded the school with the Eco-School label. With more than 59,000 schools from 68 countries in 2019, there is a large network of Eco-Schools: primary and secondary schools that are actively committed to making sustainable thinking and doing central to all school life.
Thanks to its new Climate Playground, the school is ready to work on 21st century skills in a refreshing way. Inquisitive and cooperative learning and increased concentration and well-being thanks to quality play time and an international network of like-minded people make the school a unique place in our educational landscape.
More information on how to integrate Erasmus+ projects into your school work can be found at https://www.epos-vlaanderen.be/nl.