Nowhere to Play: Available Open and Green Space in Greater London Schools

Niloofar Shoari, Majid Ezzati, Yvonne G. Doyle, Ingrid Wolfe, Michael Brauer, James Bennett, Daniela Fecht*

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

13 Citations (Scopus)


Experiencing outdoor space, especially natural space, during childhood and adolescence has beneficial physical and mental health effects, including improved cognitive and motor skills and a lower risk of obesity. Since school-age children typically spend 35–40 hours per week at schools, we quantified their access to open (non-built-up) space and green space at schools in Greater London. We linked land use information from the UK Ordnance Survey with school characteristics from the Department for Education (DfE) for schools in Greater London. We estimated open space by isolating land and water features within school boundaries and, as a subset of open space, green space defined as open space covered by vegetation. We examined the relationship of both school open and green space with distance to Central London, whether the school was fee-paying, and the percentage of pupils eligible for free school meals (as a school-level indicator of socioeconomic status). Almost 400,000 pupils (30% of all pupils in London) attended schools with less than ten square metre per pupil of open space—the minimum recommended area by DfE—and 800,000 pupils attended schools with less than ten square metre per pupil of green space. Of the latter, 70% did not have any public parks in the immediate vicinity of their schools. School green space increased with distance from Central London. There was a weak association between the school-level socioeconomic indicator and the amount of open and green space. Fee-paying schools provided less open space compared to non-fee-paying schools in central parts of London, but the provision became comparable in suburban London. Many London schools do not provide enough open and green space. There is a need to ensure regular contact with green space through safeguarding school grounds from sales, financially supporting disadvantaged schools to increase their outdoor space and providing access to off-site facilities such as sharing outdoor space with other schools.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)375-384
Number of pages10
Issue number3
Publication statusPublished - Jun 2021


  • Green space
  • Inequalities
  • London
  • School grounds
  • Schools


Dive into the research topics of 'Nowhere to Play: Available Open and Green Space in Greater London Schools'. Together they form a unique fingerprint.

Cite this