outstanding outdoor spaces

Edward Francis Primary School, Essex

Wanting to find a way to encourage their pupils to take part in more active play, Edward Francis Primary School decided to develop their playground. They tell us how new play equipment has made play times natural, fun and full of exercise.
Why did you want to develop your playground?
Active play is extremely important to us at Edward Francis Primary School and we wanted to find a way to encourage more of it in our school grounds. In keeping with our natural surroundings, we wanted equipment that would inspire our pupils and give them a more positive and interested attitude towards being active. We hoped that we would also be able to incorporate this into lessons, both physically and creatively.

What were the key elements that made Playforce stand out from other providers?
We had found equipment that would inspire creative play and some that looked natural but it was the Playforce Woodland Towers that gave us both. The equipment is designed to blend with the environment but is interesting enough to inspire the pupils as well. There were lots of options for our tower but the experienced team listened to what we wanted to achieve and helped us choose the best combination for our grounds.
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Play times should be about having fun and since installing the new playground, the children love running outside to use the equipment.
How are you using the space to deliver outdoor learning and educational play?
The Woodland Tower is used primarily during play times. The children are left to their own devices to find imaginative ways to play. We encourage them to set themselves and each other challenges – they love to see if they can beat their best time across the obstacles. We do try to include the playground in lessons too. We can reenact historic adventures across the Monkey Walk Bridge or show how balance and forces walk on the Wobble Walkway.

What are the biggest benefits you have seen for the children?
Play times should be about having fun and since installing the new playground, the children love running outside to use the equipment. They are developing a range of physical skills by getting active on the Woodland Tower but are also improving their communication skills by working together to find ways to play. When break time is over, they are full of motivation and energy for their next class.
Can you share any practice insights you have gained?

Choosing equipment that has a natural look can make your playground look much bigger. It also helps encourage children to see the natural environment as an exciting place to explore. By making active play fun, pupils are getting exercise without even realising and this can improve their attitudes towards it for a happier and healthier lifestyle.
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