School Grounds TRAnSfoRmAtiOn  
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Surveying the surveyors

Since a consistent approach is important, the members of the planning team should start by surveying themselves to make sure that they agree on the purpose of greening the school grounds, the process they will use to gather information and the way it will be compiled and used.

The team should organize the surveys and be responsible for involving the whole school in gathering the data you require for redesigning your grounds.

Team members can be assigned responsibilities so that everyone on the team and in the school knows who is responsible for what aspect of the surveying process.


The sample surveys provided on this web page are intended to serve as a guide to help schools develop their own surveys according to their own site and neighbourhood.

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To help your planning team ensure that you are designing the surveys with the children in mind, take a walk around your school grounds and imagine that you are a child. Using the School Grounds Survey, write your responses to the various aspects of the yard from the perspective of children in different grades.


Try writing down a list of reasons why you would like to transform your grounds. Some of the reasons most commonly cited by schools are:

  • to encourage an active interest in the natural environment
  • to create a more nurturing environment
  • to develop grounds as a hands-on cross-curricula resource
  • to enhance local biodiversity
  • to develop a new environmental ethic
  • to create shade to help protect children from the sun and windbreaks to shelter them from cold Winter winds
  • to create quiet social spaces away from active areas
  • to reduce vandalism and litter
  • to make teaching and learning fun
  • to make playing more interesting and to increase opportunities for social, creative/cognitive, and quiet or solitary play
  • to help reduce anti-social behaviour such as bullying
  • to involve the whole community
  • to make the grounds a useful part of the local community

Ask yourselves questions such as:

  • What is there for young people to do outside?
  • Are there adequate provisions for physical, social, creative/ cognitive, and quiet or solitary play?
  • Is there any shelter from harsh Winter winds or the Summer sun, or any refuge for quieter children away from boisterous play?
  • Is there anywhere that encourages observation of nature?
  • What messages do the school grounds, buildings and surrounding environment convey to the children?
  • How do the grounds affect behaviours and attitudes?
  • Are older students' social needs recognized in the design of the yard?
  • Are the grounds used as a cross-curricular resource?
  • How are the grounds used by the community?

Think about how you are going to...

  • gain approval for proceeding to an in-depth survey of the site and everyone who uses the grounds with full school support
  • start integrating the surveying and data-gathering exercises into the curriculum
  • present your findings to the school community and encourage school and community support for changing the grounds
  • communicate the school's intentions to the community
  • organize the surveys
  • involve the whole school in gathering the site and site-use data

Compiling data and presenting results

During the surveys and brainstorming sessions, your team will ask a broad range of questions that encompass all aspects of the school's outdoor environments and the activities that take place within them throughout the year. You will have a large number of responses to compile including general feelings and specific comments about the present state of the grounds and ideas for making improvements.

Your survey results can be more-readily compiled and understood when they are categorized according to different aspects of the grounds such as space, present use, possible use, built and natural environment, problems and solutions, health and safety issues, etc.

When presenting results of the student brainstorming sessions, try sorting the comments according to these categories and then subdivide them to reflect the needs of the various age groups and programmes in your school (kindergarten, primary, junior, middle, special education, day care, after school activities, etc.). This will help people understand the reasons for redesigning the grounds to meet the play, social, educational and health and safety needs of children of different ages and abilities.

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