outstanding outdoor spaces

Ashley Infant School, Hampshire

As part of the school’s ‘Active Challenge’, the pupils at Ashley Infant School are benefiting from a new playground development that allows them to test their physical skills. Headteacher Pauline Dukes tells us how the new equipment has improved the school’s fitness.

Why did you want to develop your playground?

At Ashley Infant School we recognise the importance of incorporating exercise and outdoor play into the academic day. We run an active challenge that we encourage the pupils to take part in, in order to develop their physical skills and well-being. The children have reacted well to these challenges but we wanted to develop a playground where they could attempt a range of activities at different levels.

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

The team at Playforce were really excited about our ideas for the playground and worked hard to ensure that everyone’s suggestions were incorporated in some way. Their extensive experience allowed them to be realistic and honest when discussing designs but they never suggested an idea couldn’t be done until they’d tried it. At every stage of the planning process, Playforce considered the children’s health and safety as well as fun. This created the perfect combination.
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Not only has the new playground helped the children become happier and healthier, they now can’t wait to get outside and start exercising.

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

The new equipment is used on a daily basis to ensure that the children take part in active and creative exercise throughout the week. Our playground was designed to ensure that it provides a challenge for a variety of physical developments and they progress in difficulty so that the children can work their way along the trail.

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

Not only has the new playground helped the children become happier and healthier, they now can’t wait to get outside and start exercising. Introducing the idea of challenges gives the pupils a great sense of motivation and we are really pleased to see some healthy competition between different age groups.

Can you share any best practice insights you’ve gained?

When introducing a new playground that is intended for physical development, it is important to ensure all areas are covered. We installed equipment that challenged the whole body at varying difficulty levels. Before allowing the children to use the playground by themselves, we made certain that they had been instructed and taught how to benefit from the equipment safely and productively.
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