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The Schoolyard I’d Like

The Schoolyard Id Like

Spending time outdoors is good for you. It reduces stress, improves our focus, enhances creativity and keeps us active. For high school students, the schoolyard provides an important escape during long days in class. How can its design help students reap the well-being benefits of time outside?

The Schoolyard I’d Like is an ideas competition organised through the Health Research Institute at the University of Canberra to identify what high school students want and need within the outdoor spaces of their school. What is the purpose of the modern schoolyard? How could it be better? What would be designed differently? Students are encouraged to share their ideas and help spur change. Entries will be reviewed by a jury panel and a select number of entries awarded prizes.

This competition is about giving Canberra students a voice in defining a new type of schoolyard.

The importance of the schoolyard

In Australia, students spend an average of 10,000 hours of their adolescence at school[1].  The schoolyard is an integral part of this experience.  At a time when teen mental health issues are rising – and opportunities for play are falling – it is time to reimagine how schoolyard design can contribute towards the wellbeing of school communities. But such a conversation needs to start with its most important users: the students.

During Term 1 of 2021, Canberra students in Years 7-12 are invited to illustrate their idea of the perfect schoolyard.  Students should snap a picture of their existing schoolground and show how they would reimagine it through an A3 poster, accompanied by an A4 summary of no more than 500 words.

The competition will officially run from Monday 22 February until Thursday 1 April.  Student submissions will be entered into one of three categories: Years 7/8, Years 9/10 and Years 11/12.  More information on submission requirements will be made available by the start of Term 1.

For Students

We are looking for originality, innovation and imagination. Ideas could address issues of community, ecology, climate change or inclusion.  You might consider topics of sports, safety, socialising or studying. Whether it is rethinking the entire schoolyard or designing the perfect outdoor seat, no idea is too big or too small. If it is meaningful to you and your fellow students, we want to know how and why.

For teachers:

The competition explores topics relevant to unit of outdoor learning, geography and design, particularly around issues of place and liveability.  Teachers can adapt the competition to suit their needs in the classroom. Pupils could be assigned the task individually, in small groups or the whole class could work on a collaborative entry.  By taking part, you will be contributing towards much needed research around the types of schoolyards students want and need.

For more information, contact the competition organiser at Gweneth.leigh@canberra.edu.au.  Further details will be available on this website in January 2021.


[1] OECD (2014). Education at a Glance 2014: OECD Indicators, Author.