Maze fun encourages biodiversity in playgrounds

Schools across East Ayrshire are taking part in an exciting new initiative that will encourage outdoor learning while helping the environment.

The Learning Outdoor Support team worked in partnership with Outdoor Services team on a pilot grass cutting initiative. When lockdown was called by the Scottish Government on Monday 23 March, schools closed to pupils and the Outdoor Services team were diverted to support colleagues across the Council carry out essential tasks supporting the most vulnerable in our communities. As the schools lay empty the grass continued to grow, helping the environment and encouraging biodiversity.

Seizing an opportunity to help encourage outdoor learning, the Learning Outdoor Support team asked children from local primary schools to design a maze that could be cut into their playfields by the Outdoor Services team.

Councillor Fiona Campbell, Cabinet Member for Skills and Learning said: “At Gargieston Primary in Kilmarnock, the children designed new paths and mazes, which were then cut into the grass by George from Outdoor Services. It was pouring with rain on the day the work was scheduled to be carried out but the weather didn’t dampen the children’s spirits in the slightest.

“The children loved the maze that had been cut into their meadow space and spent break and lunchtime exploring the new paths, the longer grass and the new beasties that have made it their home, which is exactly what the team had hoped to achieve.

“At this time it is important to look for any positive changes that can come from the adversity that we have all faced. This project not only helps the environment and engages young people to enjoy outdoor learning, it teaches us that positive change is always possible.”

Natalie White, Principal Teacher from the Learning Outdoor Support team said: “Research has shown that being physically active in greenspaces has a positive effect on mental health and wellbeing, while the long grass encourages a host of plants and beasties to thrive, which encourages biodiversity and is great for the environment.

“Pupils at Gargieston Primary will be using the space for play but it will be a new space for learning too. Maths, science and languages can all be brought to live using the meadow. Teachers have been given lessons and resources and plan to use the outdoor spaces as part of the weekly learning across the school.”