Boom in demand for bespoke outdoor school buildings @RoundPegOutdoorBuildings 

A Midland start-up specialising in creating bespoke outdoor buildings has revealed it’s seen a boom in demand to create outdoor classrooms as inner city schools look to teach more lessons outside.

Bespoke forest schools – or outdoor learning hubs - are just one of the new trends to emerge from the pandemic for South-Staffordshire based Roundpeg Outdoor Buildings, which celebrated its first business anniversary back in January.

Most of the interest and orders are coming from inner city schools and the new outdoor classrooms are being hailed as having a “major positive impact” on pupils for a host of reasons.

Birmingham school first to unveil its outdoor learning hub

St Peter’s Primary School in Bartley Green, Birmingham, is the first to have unveiled its 30ft by 10ft Outdoor Learning Hub, created by Roundpeg, which it’s using for science, DT and art classes for its 220 pupils, aged four to 11.

Headteacher Mrs Jo McAleenan, who revealed she plans to run a competition for pupils to name the new forest school building, said: “It’s an amazing additional, outdoor space with open-ended opportunities.

“We wanted an outdoor space, that was dry and warm, which pupils and teachers could use as part of our newly developed Forest School and something that would fit in to the landscape without the hassle of planning permission and within a tight budget.

“We are absolutely delighted with our outdoor learning hub. The quality and design of it enables us to have an additional teaching and learning space that will have a major impact on our pupils.”

An inspiring and exciting space

She added that: “The layout within the playground makes you feel like you are in the middle of the countryside. It is inspiring and exciting for pupils and staff.”

Just some of the creative activities which the primary pupils have enjoyed in the outdoor classroom so far include whittling and bug studies.

Now other West Midlands schools are pursuing plans for similar outdoor classroom projects with Roundpeg, which is run by Adam Timmis, of Rugeley, and Sally Ann Smith, of Tutbury, who have tripled their workforce in recent months, including taking on apprentice Kyah Hudson, of Cannock.

Sally said: “Forest Schools are seen to have a major impact on pupils, particularly in inner city areas, as it gives them that feeling and sense of being outdoors as well as having space and freedom.

“Using the building and being in a Forest School helps to develop ‘soft skills’ that are more difficult to teach in other subjects - things such as determination, resilience, creativity and imagination.”

A trend that’s showing no signs of slowing up anytime soon

The mother-of-two added: “It’s also something that’s become more popular out of the pandemic as people look to adapt to moving outside the confines of schools and homes.

“We have another school that’s just waiting for the funding in Staffordshire to be finalised before we start working on that project and have others, who we’ve been in discussion with, that we expect to follow suit, which is really exciting.”

Roundpeg launched just weeks before the UK went into the first Covid lockdown but has been kept busy with orders linked to pandemic trends, including wooden garden rooms for home offices, self-employed venues, gyms and bars in Birmingham, Rugeley, Burton, Tutbury, Cannock and Uttoxeter.

The manufacturing base for Roundpeg, which was shortlisted for Most Promising Start-Up over the winter in Staffordshire Chamber of Commerce’s Business Awards, is in Fauld. It offers high-quality and eco-friendly, bespoke garden rooms, as well as standard sized timber outbuildings and sheds.

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