outstanding outdoor spaces

St. Ann’s Well Primary School, Nottinghamshire

The children at St. Ann’s Well Primary School have a rich outdoor learning environment where they can enjoy the natural world with their families and teachers.

Why did you want to develop your playground?

We wanted to create a rich outdoor learning environment where the children and their families could access enjoyable, inspirational experiences. We hoped that this, in turn, would help the children develop the skills and knowledge essential for their future success. We wanted to make it possible for the children to discover the elements, explore and investigate the outdoor environment and widen their sensory experiences. We needed to provide opportunities for the development of the pupil’s language and communications skills, improve their levels of social interaction as well as create physical and emotional challenges through the design of stimulating outdoor play spaces.

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

We were immediately drawn to Playforce by the range and quality of resources on offer and the outdoor equipment that is available. We were contacted by a skilled professional who took our ideas on board and created a design for the development of the project. Playforce provided technical advice on the suitability of the equipment, all of which is great value for money.
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The pupils are able to engage in meaningful play based multi-sensory experiences outdoors and are taking responsibility for their learning and play.

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

We have divided our outdoor space into a number of different zones where children can play and learn. The outdoor classroom is used all year round and provides a space where children and adults can share a range of learning experiences. The space is used by the boys to be active, noisy and messy without feeling too controlled by the adults. If the children are looking for a bit of peace and quiet they can escape to the bench by our big Ash tree. The stage gives the children a chance to become performers, we’ve watched everything from dances to stand-up comedy acts.

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

Through the development of our new playground we have been able to create a rich and stimulating outdoor learning environment which is safe and secure for our children. The pupils are able to engage in meaningful play based multi-sensory experiences outdoors and are taking responsibility for their learning and play. They have developed an understanding of and respect for living things and the natural world through a wide range of hands-on activities.

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

Be brave and tell others about what you want to achieve. Involve as many different people as you can at different stages of the project and encourage the children to include their ideas. Welcome the children and their families to the new outdoor space and help them see that it has been designed for them.
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