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Ongoing project

Better green spaces in Australian primary schools (GC22010)

Key research provider: University of Melbourne

What is it all about?

This project seeks to advance the growing body of evidence documenting the benefits people gain from nature by looking more closely at how children’s behaviour, cognitive development, academic performance, and the well-being of children and teachers are influenced by their perceptions of and experiences with green spaces in primary school grounds.


In an increasingly urban world, opportunities to interact with green spaces depend heavily on what we encounter on a daily basis. Children and teachers spend a significant portion of their lives at school, making the green spaces on school grounds a critical part of their everyday lives.


The project team will draw upon their unique combination of expertise in cognitive developmental psychology, urban horticulture, and interdisciplinary conservation science to produce a scientifically robust, data-driven rationale for why school communities should increase green spaces in our primary schools. Using state-of-the-art geographic mapping, they will identify the growth potential for school green spaces and elicit the benefits and barriers of increasing them as experienced by children and teachers, built environment professionals, and school authorities.  

From these learnings, this project will produce nine new published outputs. These will be a

  1. A literature review
  2. A collection of best practice case studies
  3. Identification of policy intervention points to increase green school spaces
  4. A spatial analysis of the potential growth of green areas in Australian primary schools
  5. Measurement of the relationships between child development and access to school green spaces,
  6. Analysis of children’s time spent in school green spaces,
  7. Identification of the benefits and barriers of spending time in green spaces at schools
  8. Perspectives of school representatives on how to increase school green spaces
  9. A Guide to Better Green Spaces in Primary Schools.

The Guide will provide an evidence-based rationale for why green spaces are important in primary schools. It will also outline how different types of green spaces contribute to children’s development and the health and well-being of students and teachers. Importantly, it will detail the capacity to expand and enhance green spaces within typical school grounds in schools across Australia. The Guide will identify pathways to support the growth of green spaces on school grounds based on existing standards and frameworks.


The findings from this research will be translated into practical actions and Australian-based resources that can bring the benefits of increased green space to students and teachers in primary schools across Australia.