If your school is scenically located in rolling grounds, with playing fields, your own cricket pitch and two or three playgrounds, then you’re forgiven for raising an eyebrow at the suggestion of a playground on the school rooftop.

But spare a thought for the many schools in busy London and built-up towns who are painfully aware that their outside space is disproportionately small to their school size.

If you think through it, this comes as no surprise.

In these busy areas, especially around the capital, space comes at a premium. With massive commercial and housing demand in these locations, schools are not allotted the outdoor space they really need. This is unfortunate, as it is typically in these densely populated areas that the demand for extra pupil places is highest.

As Britain’s schools come under increasing pressure to provide more places for our growing population. This in turn means that valuable green space for children to play is sacrificed or compromised to build more classrooms.

There is no doubt that children must have somewhere to let off steam. Thankfully, it seems the answer is not too far away. Planners, particularly in inner city areas, look increasingly towards the sky. Or to be more precise – the roofs of school buildings.

For those already working out the potential health and safety issues of children playing on the tops of school buildings then we assure that this is an idea that is working well on schools and public buildings across the world.

With such a shortage of space it has to make sense to make full use of an unused school roof – assuming of course that proper safety fencing and supervision are in place.

This also brings new meaning to so called green roofs which are becoming increasingly popular in the UK. So far the designs have aesthetics in mind, such as a pleasant garden outlook, as opposed to providing something practical for our children to use. However, specialist playground designers and installers, Playcubed say there is nothing to prevent installing equipment on a roof – the design challenges are largely similar to those at ground level.

For those wondering about health and safety issues of a rooftop playground, the idea is already working around the world. All we need are a few adventurous architects willing to break out of the mould! There is evidence to suggest that this is happening, but town planners are still a little cautious. Birmingham councillors have recently turned down such a plan for an inner-city school. However if they had consulted with neighbours in Holland and Germany, they’d have discovered that there’s little to fear.

Time will no doubt ensure that a rooftop playground will soon become commonplace. Even though there’s 90,000 additional primary places created last year, we need a further 130,000 in the next three years. The shortage of places is most acute in London. One borough that has felt the crush is Tower Hamlets. The population soared by 26% during the decade spanning 2001 to 2011. This is largest increase in population of any local authority in England and Wales.

All these children need somewhere to play and if there’s nothing at ground level – then the only way is up!

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