outstanding outdoor spaces

Training Depot Day Nursery, Bedforsdhire

The Training Depot Day Nursery in Luton wanted to develop a permanent playground in their school that would act as an extension of the classroom. Deputy Headteacher Miss McCowen tells us how their new equipment has made their children look forward to getting outside and learning.
Why did you develop your playground?
The original playground at the nursery was extremely small and covered in concrete. It lacked imagination and had no fixed equipment. The playground needed to be set up from scratch in the morning and stored away again at the end of every day. This involved carrying some very heavy equipment and proved to be difficult for our staff. We wanted to develop a playground that would be a permanent fixture for the children.

What were the key elements that made Playforce stand out from other providers?
We were instantly drawn to Playforce’s high quality marketing material and brochures. All of the information was delivered in simple language and the colourful illustrations gave an accurate representation of the equipment. We spoke to a very professional Outdoor Grounds Consultant, who visited us twice within a year as we revised and developed wider, additional plans. We were able to see our plans come alive on good computer generated proposals of layout and work from there. Playforce also offered us good advice when dealing with the risk assessments addressing child safety.
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Choosing high quality safety surfacing together with robust, safe and interesting equipment that is strategically sited has enable the children to become familiar and confident in their environment.
How are you using the space to deliver outdoor learning & educational play?
We see our new playground as an extension of the indoor classroom. The playground is accessed on a daily basis to ensure that the varied resources are used and our learning goals are achieved. Our equipment is adaptable and we have used it for a number of different themes. Recently we used one of the bridges as a walking plank for a pirate ship when we organised a Peter Pan week, to raise money for Great Ormond Street Hospital. The layout of our outdoor space allows bikes, trikes and scooters to play in restricted areas and the choice of outdoor musical instruments encourages the children’s creative flair. The playground is used to observe children achieving personal social and emotional development. While they interact with the equipment they have to negotiate and learn to share with their peers as well as challenging their own physical abilities.

What are the biggest benefits you have seen for the children?
Choosing high quality safety surfacing together with robust, safe and interesting equipment that is strategically sited has enable the children to become familiar and confident in their environment. In turn, this has enhanced their physical and imaginative experiences. The children look forward to going outside to play, learn and get their one hour of recommended physical exercise a day. Allowing children the independence to access the playground, during free play, helps them to learn control, manage and manipulate the equipment, as well as helping them to grow in self-confidence.
Can you share any best practice insights you’ve gained?
Selecting a wide range of equipment is excellent for stimulating imagination. Creating a permanent outdoor space enables a school to employ organised activities that can be regularly scheduled and repeated.
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