outstanding outdoor spaces

Riverside Primary School, Herefordshire

When Riverside Primary School in Hereford relocated, the outside area had not been developed. Headteacher Emma Shearer tells us how creating a new outdoor learning environment has encouraged co-operative and active play within the school.
Why did you want to develop your playground?
We were really excited about relocating Riverside Primary to a new school building, however the outdoor space was undeveloped and uninspiring. We wanted to develop a playground that would encourage the children to be imaginative in their play and create an attractive and safe environment to do it in. We wanted to make sure that the children were excited about spending time in and out of the classroom.

What were the key elements that made Playforce stand out from other providers?
From the very start the team at Playforce was fantastic at communicating with us. They were enthusiastic about the development and offered us a great range of support and ideas. Playforce has a huge variety of equipment and products to choose from and helped us pick the perfect pieces for Riverside.
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We’ve noticed that the children are more active, both in class and outside, and we have had fewer behavioural issues. It’s great to see the children developing confidence in their physical skills as they try more and more of the equipment.
How are we using the space to deliver outdoor learning & educational play?
Since developing the playground we have introduced outdoor teaching to all areas of the curriculum. Outdoor learning and educational play have been combined as an extension to the learning that takes place in the classroom. Playtimes are much more structured in order to encourage more active play. The children love going outside and getting active and the Early Years use the space in all weathers.

What are the biggest benefits you have seen for the children?
The children are now a lot more willing to take part in co-operative play. They work together to create imaginative and unusual ways of using the equipment or to make up their own games. We’ve noticed that the children are more active, both in class and outside, and we have had fewer behavioural issues. It’s great to see the children developing confidence in their physical skills as they try more and more of the equipment.
Can you share any best practice insights you’ve gained?
Take your time and spend longer on the planning. Ask lots of questions about how suitable and appropriate current fixings are when adding new equipment. If you want to be able to use your playground all year round, make sure that you look at the location of the products in relation to aspects such as drainage.
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