outstanding outdoor spaces

Anthony Bek Community Primary School, Nottinghamshire

Anthony Bek Community Primary School wanted to develop their Early Years outdoor space. The Focus for this space was to create an area for Physical Development and other learrning opportunities outside to help the development of the children.

Why did you want to develop your playground?

Our provision didn’t meet the requirements of the Early Years Curriculum or the needs of our pupils in relation to Physical Development and opportunities for outdoor learning. We wanted to provide the children with opportunities to demonstrate skills such as balance and climbing.

What were the key elements that made Playforce stand out from other providers?

We shortlisted three providers based solely on catalogues and website information and invited each company in to discuss our needs and budget. Chris, the sales consultant from Playforce was extremely professional, honest and helpful with a ‘nothing is too much trouble attitude’. I think trust plays a very important part in the decision making process and we trusted in Chris. He was honest about the positives and negatives of each element and we didn’t feel as if we were being pushed to choose Playforce. Despite our tight budget and knowing that we couldn’t get everything we had hoped for, Playforce offered what we felt was the closest to our needs without compromising our key aims for the project. Another important aspect of our decision was the option to buy Poddely and the discount overall we received. We think Poddely is a great resource and we’re really looking forward to receiving it (when our budget is renewed) in April.
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Children now have the opportunity to acquire new skills/ strengthen existing skills in relation to Physical Development which they didn’t have before.

How are you using the space to deliver outdoor learning and educational play?

Our children operate in a ‘free flow’ manner wherever possible and for the most part ‘choose’ the area they wish to play in. Our outdoor and indoor provision are targeted towards each of the 7 areas of the EYFS curriculum and reviewed regularly in relation to the children’s needs and interests.

What are the biggest benefits you have seen for the children?

Children now have the opportunity to acquire new skills/ strengthen existing skills in relation to Physical Development which they didn’t have before. Despite having quite simple apparatus, the children always surprise the staff with their imaginative use of it. Once we purchase Poddely, this will be even more evident.
The outdoor classroom has also enabled learning outside to continue even in poor weather, which again wasn’t possible before.

Any other comments?

Due to a change of installation date and breakdown in communication, we were initially disappointed with the outcome of our installation as the outdoor classroom wasn’t in the place we had discussed and the road didn’t cover the areas we had expected it to when we were asked to remove certain plants and uneven grounds leaving quite a lot of exposed soil.
After contacting Chris, I was also quite disappointed to hear that a completely different version of events/ conversations had been passed to him from the team that originally installed the equipment compared with the version from our school.

However, Chris came back to school, looked at the works, took photographs and promised to do his best to help. He kept in regular contact so I knew exactly what was happening and after several e-mails the company agreed to return to move the classroom and cover the areas of exposed soil.

The final outcome is fantastic both aesthetically and functionally and although the journey was, at times, quite stressful, we know that Playforce / Chris worked extremely hard to make sure that we were very happy customers and that I can definitely say we are and we would use Playforce again.
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