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Ongoing project

Green spaces in Australian secondary schools (GC22014)

Key research provider: University of Canberra

What is it all about?

This project seeks to understand the role of green spaces in student wellbeing within secondary schools.


Growing research demonstrates that time spent outdoors can positively impact mental and physical health. Schoolyards provide students with a daily dose of green space. They are places where youth can seek respite, relaxation and relief from daily stresses during the school day.

However, it is unclear whether secondary schoolyard designs adequately support adolescents' diverse and evolving needs, particularly when they are experiencing rapid emotional and physical development. It is essential to address this gap, particularly as mental health issues of anxiety and stress continue to rise among Australia's youth.


The research team will:

  • Investigate the current and optimal green space in secondary schools by collecting data on design quality and wellbeing indicators from schoolyard designers, planners, school administrators and student users.
  • Generate and collate new knowledge to support national conversations regarding green spaces in schools, with a particular focus on secondary schools but links to other levels of schooling. 
  • Co-design and user-test a framework for designers and planners, including built environmental attributes for wellbeing.
  • Prepare resources to communicate project outcomes, including reports, webinars and frameworks, and disseminate project activities to potential stakeholders.


This program will deliver a framework for schoolyard users, managers and designers that steers repairing, renewing and re-engaging with outdoor school environments for our youth. Building this evidence base will help broaden awareness of schoolyard environments that support various materials, environments and experiences.