outstanding outdoor spaces

Reach Primary Learning Centre

Reach Primary Learning Centre in Leeds specialises in teaching children with SEMH needs. Headteacher Ali Elvidge is passionate about different types of learning and was keen to add in an active aspect to her students’ education. She tells us why she’s so pleased with the outdoor space and what effect it has had on the children there.
Why did you want to develop your playground?
We really wanted a new outdoor space that would help the children find an outlet for their energy. Finding ways for the children to be active, in particular through play, is especially important for children with SEMH needs. 
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The playground has completely transformed the whole school. Ali Elvidge, Head Teacher

What were the key elements that made Playforce stand out from other providers?
The Playforce team worked closely with us so that they could understand our exact needs and find the playground equipment to match. They were really flexible to work with and the workmen were brilliant - polite, accommodating, tidy and thoughtful. They even took their boots off when they came through the door!

 

But this didn’t slow them down. We couldn’t believe how efficient everyone was. There was always work going on, and when one contractor finished the next was there immediately. The staying in touch phone calls and visits from the manager were also the right amount. Honestly - we couldn’t fault a thing from start to finish!

How are you using the space to deliver outdoor learning and educational play?
Our new outdoor space has incorporated a huge range of educational equipment for the children to enjoy, like the Post Mounted Chalk Board, Spinning Disk Challenge and the Large Mud Kitchen. But it’s also involved a range of equipment designed to give them a chance to ‘blow off steam’ and be active…  and a huge range of surfacing to keep bumps and scrapes to a minimum! There’s the perfect balance of promoting fitness and creativity.

 

What are the biggest benefits you have seen for the children?
The playground has completely transformed the whole school. On the day that the project was completed the children began playing together straight away, without any problems. They’ve thoroughly enjoyed exploring and trying out their new outdoor space.

The impact of our new outdoor space has been really tangible in terms of behaviour and social interaction. We’ve gone from having on average 20+ serious incidents a day to no more than three a day. Now that the children have something fun to do they’ve got a positive outlet for their energy. We’ve also had people from other schools who have visited telling us how brilliant our playground is!


Can you share any practice insights you have gained?

I was showing another headteacher around the school, and the whole school was outside playing, together. When you take into account the fact that every single one of them has moderate or severe SEMH needs, it struck me what a massive achievement this was - seeing them all playing together!

 

I’ve seen through practical experience - rather than just the theory - just how important play is for children’s physical and mental health. It’s been great to see just how quickly children respond and improve, when they’re given access to a well-designed space.

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