Langley Mill Junior School, Nottinghamshire

Langley Mill Junior School in Nottingham swapped crumbling concrete for a brand new playground that encourages the children play in an imaginative and creative way. Headteacher Mrs L. Burgess tells us how the new equipment has changed the way the children express themselves.

Why did you want to develop your playground?

The playground I inherited four years ago was a crumbling concrete space. The children ran around it randomly and most of the time it was dominated by football games. There were no opportunities for creative and imaginative play, quiet time and there certainly wasn’t a range of activities. The children told me that they found the playground frightening at times and it was an unpleasant place to be. As there is little on offer for our 7-11 year old pupils in the community, we wanted to develop a playground that would compensate for this. I was keen to use the playground as an extension of the learning environments that we were creating inside. I wanted to provide an outdoor space that would enable all children to express themselves through play, without fear of disputes or antisocial behaviours.

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

I was already familiar with Playforce and knew that the company is reliable and able to provide good quality play equipment. They are really passionate about enabling children to extend their imaginative thinking and social skills. I was particularly pleased with their follow up service and the informative staff I spoke to really reassured my thinking about Playforce.
Our play areas are no longer dominated by football games and the children are sharing the spaces well.

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

We have zoned the outdoor space in a flexible way so that a range of activities can take place in a safe environment. Children can use their imagination to develop their own games, working out the rules and the structures that shape their play. In other areas, more formal play is possible and the children can relax without being interrupted by ball games. The range of equipment means that the children can choose between exploring or sitting quietly.

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

Our play areas are no longer dominated by football games and the children are sharing the spaces well. The number of disputes has been greatly minimised and can now be easily sorted by the play pupil leaders. The children are able to organise themselves and develop their own play activities and all children take part in some educational play everyday.

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

Providing a variety of equipment that children can use to develop their play is essential. We often add additional resources to the fixed pieces of equipment to extend opportunities, such as; dressing up clothes, lengths of fabric and large dominoes. We’ve found that allowing the children to take it in turns to be responsible for the equipment adds a sense of ownership and they will discuss new ideas with me.