outstanding outdoor spaces

Willow Fields Community Primary School, Tyne and Wear

Dull, uninspiring school grounds are a thing of the past for staff and pupils at Willow Fields Community Primary.

Why did you want to develop your playground?

Our old playground was extremely cramped and, with no equipment, it did very little to challenge the children’s’ minds or bodies. The grounds didn’t encourage any value of play, lacked motivation and were basically dull. We wanted to develop a new play area that would inspire the staff and pupils and encourage a balanced combination of outdoor learning and educational play.

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

From the very start Playforce posed the right questions and challenged our designs from a health and safety prospective so that we could achieve a fun yet very safe playground. The team brought our thoughts to fruition and our consultant oversaw the work from beginning to end. Great decisions were made in order to ensure that we got more than we wanted from the playground design. Throughout the whole process we felt we were in safe hands.
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When our playground was dull and bland, physical activity had been minimal and badly organised. This would often result in poor behaviour and children would return to class without being able to let off steam.

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

The main focus of our new playground is to encourage physical activity. The Multi-Level Timber Trail allows the children to challenge their skills and compete against or work alongside others. The Basketball Court and Football Pitch allows for more team sports and the variety of equipment encourages the pupils to try out new activities.

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

When our playground was dull and bland, physical activity had been minimal and badly organised. This would often result in poor behaviour and children would return to class without being able to let off steam. Since installing our new playground the pupils’ behaviour has greatly increased and playtimes are electric. Staff have noticed an improvement in their own motivation as well as the children’s and the school day is much more exciting and inspiring.

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

Including a variety of equipment in your playground development makes it easier to keep all of the children happier. If there are different challenges and activities to choose from, the pupils have more freedom to play where they want and are therefore more inclined to take part in physical activity.
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