outstanding outdoor spaces

Gateford Park Primary School, Nottinghamshire

Headteacher Gareth Letton tells us about their exciting new outside space.

Why did you want to develop your playground?

It was an exciting time at school as a local nursery education provider was moving into our building. This gave us the opportunity to develop a brand new Foundation Stage outside classroom, from scratch, to give the children the very best outdoor learning experiences possible. It was important to us that the outdoor classroom was not simply a playground, but rather a space in which all aspects of early years learning could be taken outside of the classroom and developed.

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

Having worked with Playforce in two previous schools and therefore being aware of their excellent work, I was very happy to get in touch. Chris, our Playforce School Grounds Consultant was already aware of the limitations of our school site and was able to suggest best use of the space that was being created, whilst incorporating our ‘must haves’ into the plan. We are delighted by the results.
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The children enjoy using the large fixed equipment and the new Flow Wall is a particular hit.

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

Gateford Park’s philosophy is that any learning can take place just as well outside as indoors. The children enjoy using the large fixed equipment and the new Flow Wall is a particular hit. We don’t trouble our four and five year olds with detailed explanations of what they are learning through play – our talented teachers plan for the experiences using Playforce equipment and take pride in the wonderful progress that is made, not least in physical development but across the whole curriculum.

Can you share any best practice insights you have gained?

It is vitally important that a school makes visits to other sites to see what can be achieved in spaces of different shapes and sizes.

Any other comments?

Developing the outside area of a school can be a strain on ever tightening school budgets, but the benefits to learning and positive impact on outcomes brought by our new outside classroom are certainly worth the spend. We are wondering which outside area to develop next!
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