outstanding outdoor spaces

Mapledene Primary School, Warwickshire

It was the ultimate dream of pupils, teachers and parents at Mapledene Primary School to transform the unattractive, dull playspace into an area fit for play and learning. In 2008, the school was successful in a £50,000 bid for the People’s Millions, a UK wide programme to fund projects that improve the quality of life through local communities.

A makeover with benefits

With only shadows of former line markings, the school’s previous play area delivered little or no play or educational benefits whatsoever. Melanie Lynch, a year 5 teacher explained: “A positive play space has so much potential in terms of aiding health, well being and happiness. We wanted a playground that we could use not only for play, but for learning across the curriculum. As part of the grant application the children designed the playground in their geography lessons, which meant their excitement was magnified.”
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The Outdoor Classroom is perfect for not only summer months, but winter too. It has a shaded area and can be used to teach any subject, including maths and science.

Sharing the happiness of educational play

The playground has brought learning and play to life; almost every area of the curriculum can be taught within the play space. “We have a staged area where the children can put on performances and dances which links to drama within literacy and PE. Drama is more appealing than ever as the children can perform outside. The area is so popular, that a local dance group even comes to use it.”

The Outdoor Classroom is perfect for not only summer months, but winter too. It has a shaded area and can be used to teach any subject, including maths and science. “We always get outside as much as possible.”
Mapledene Primary School now has two obstacle courses, one in each of the infant and junior playgrounds. “We run an outdoor maths week where children are taken outside to practice their skills, such as measuring and counting. There is also a link to PSHE in terms of team building. Learning using the obstacle course in the infant playground links to numeracy, PE, and literacy.”

Finally the Imaginative play area encourages and nurtures the imagination of each and every child. “The children can make it whatever they want it to be and create a setting – this links to Drama in literacy. It’s wonderful to see the children use their imaginations so widely.”
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