outstanding outdoor spaces

Wyndham Primary Academy, Derbyshire

Wyndham Primary Academy in Derby had a problem. The school playground was bare and a tyre park was inaccessible for much of the year due to water underfoot. Its pupils had nothing to do outside at breaktimes and behaviour was becoming a problem.
Executive Principal Angela O’Brien asked us to help. She showed our expert consultant Chris the site and they discussed the brief, the budget and the best options for the school. Then our design team got to work on a solution that would transform these uninspiring spaces into a fantastic all-weather playground and learning area that the staff and children would love. The plan was approved and installation started.
To ensure the school got the very most from its investment, we created different zones for different types of activities: an outdoor classroom and learning area; spaces for performance and creative, imaginative and physical play, and sheltered and seating areas. We ensured that equipment, including the existing tyre park, could be used all year round by installing an all weather Bonded Rubber Mulch surface.

It was quite a transformation. The school uses its new space to deliver outdoor learning and educational play. The Gazebo is used at playtime and lunchtime daily for quiet reading, and throughout summer, teachers use it for circle time. Small groups use the Musical instrument panels to create stories through music at lunchtime and the Clear Drawing Boards give pupils an opportunity to draw what they see through them, giving an extra dimension to art work.
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We observed the contractors (who were amazing – polite and friendly, answering any of the pupils’ questions) and photographed the changes daily.
So what impact have the new outdoor facilities had on the school?
Headteacher Angela O’Brien says: “Behaviour outside is much better as pupils have more to do now. Children no longer tell us they’re bored or have nobody to play with, and pupils of all ages and abilities interact with each other in a positive way. We see that pupils feel really valued by their school. For them, this is a visual and entertaining way of the school telling them that we care about them and want them to have the best. For us as a school, the best is delivering to the whole child in every area what they need.”
There are lots of play companies out there. But Wyndham Primary Academy chose Playforce. Here’s why: “From initial contact, Playforce were helpful but not pushy. Informative without the hard sell. I felt I could make my own suggestions and they were listened to rather than someone making their own choices on my behalf. Chris was mindful of our need and guided me to ideas that worked for our pupils. Other companies measured up and came back with their own ideas which weren’t necessarily ideal for our pupils. We hope to continue working with Playforce to extend our outdoor provision.”

“The most pleasing thing for us all has been to see the joy on pupils’ faces as they play on the equipment. The delight on the opening day gave us goose bumps and their faces were a picture as they saw that this was all for them.”
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