My Loose Parts Play Enquiry – Update 1

My enquiry approach has been slightly delayed by my gathering of resources. As a school we are currently gathering donations of loose parts equipment which I intend to use to carry out my enquiry. This means that so far most of my enquiry has focused on literature.

A really useful reading that I have used to enhance my thinking has been the British Council document called ‘Unlocking a World of Potential: Core skills for learning, work and society’. This document has encouraged me to reflect on the importance of knowledge and skills as an intertwining core of education. Highlighting relevant skills in today’s world it looks at where these skills may develop in the future and why it is vital we equip pupils with these skills. From this document, I have questioned whether skills are something that should be taught, or learnt from within. My enquiring approach should help me to consider this question in more detail. If skills are learnt from within then there might not be a need for a visible progression but if they are to be taught then it is vital that a concrete progression is created.

The Education Scotland ‘Learning for Sustainability Self-evaluation and improvement framework’ has been a good tool for pulling my ideas back to why we are developing this area and how it should look when done well. Keeping this focus has given me grounding for the reasons behind my enquiry approach.

North Lanarkshire’s publication ‘This place is like a building site’ has given a good example of what loose parts play can look like when established. This has resulted in me examining more case studies through the Education Scotland website. This reading has cemented my opinion surrounding the benefits of loose parts play but still leaves me questioning more about how it differs depending on age, stage and experience.

My Plan

  • FOCUS: Using ‘loose parts play’ to develop problem solving and creativity across the primary school.


  • QUESTION: In what way does the format of ‘loose parts play’ need to change to provide progression of creativity and problem solving skills at P1, P4, P7?


  • WHO: 6 pupils at age stage, P1, P4, P7. The children will be of mixed ability and gender.


  • WHAT: I am going to use 3 different methods of ‘loose parts play’ at each stage to examine which methods provide the most appropriate challenge and chance to develop problem solving and creativity skills at that particular stage. I will provide opportunities for each group to experience a session of exploratory ‘loose parts play’, guided ‘loose parts play’, and set timed tasks using ‘loose parts play’. The materials provided for each stage and session will be the same to ensure the possible variables are reduced. I will analyse the evidence from these sessions to comment on the appropriateness of each method in order to provide suitable challenge for each stage


  • WHY:  As part of the school improvement plan I am rolling out ‘loose parts play’ opportunities across the school to develop skills for learning, life and work. I want to do this in a purposeful and challenging way for all pupils. I need to learn more about how to differentiate the use of ‘loose parts play’ in order to achieve challenging experiences for all involved to develop sustainable creativity and problem solving skills. The British Teaching Council explains that knowledge and skills at intertwined but this means that too often the skills that come with the knowledge are simply delivered by a teacher. This means that the environment for developing these skills are not challenging enough and therefore the skills are not fully developed at a sustainable level. Education Scotland states that problem solving and creativity are going to be vital skills for the future as technology will change society dramatically over the next 50 years. Therefore it is essential that when pupils develop the skills of creativity and problem solving it must be in a manner which is sustainable for learning, life and work.
  • EVIDENCE: I plan to use 2 forms of evidence to examine this qualitative research. I will create an observation grid that will be used for all sessions and stages to note down significant observation that are made into categories. I will also use semi-structured interviews with the groups of children to gather their views on the level of challenge at each session. These semi-structured interviews will not be identical to enable me to ask questions to suit the ages of the children.


  • WHEN:I need to spend the first fortnight collecting to resources for the ‘loose parts play’. I will then schedule the sessions over the following month and gather evidence at the same time. I will spend the next fortnight anaylsing and evaluating the evidence and collating results.