outstanding outdoor spaces

St Patrick’s RC Primary School, Lancashire

The children of St Patrick’s RC Primary School in Wigan can now keep active during lunchtimes by combining educational play with outdoor learning. Headteacher Sue Bruen tells us how the staff and children have benefited from their new equipment.

Why did you want to develop your playground?

At St Patrick’s we have always been very keen to develop our outdoor area into a space where the children can take part in activities that will challenge, interest and motivate them. We wanted to create an outdoor learning environment that the children could use during playtime and lunchtime sessions but also during learning activities that would otherwise be carried out indoors. Developing a playground with Playforce meant that we could combine learning and play in an environment that would really inspire the children.

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

We had been thinking about developing the outdoor area for a long time and Playforce was happy to listen carefully to all of our requirements. The team were able to provide us with the equipment that matched our needs and they were really enthusiastic about the task in hand. Everyone’s ideas were considered throughout the planning stage and Playforce encouraged the children to voice their opinions too.
The equipment from Playforce provides a range of activities for the children to choose from and they are always keen to have a go.

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

The climbing equipment that has been installed in both the Early Years area and on the junior playground is used to encourage the children to be active and try new things. It is one of the most popular choices when it comes to playtime and dinnertime. The Octagonal Shelter has been particularly successful in giving the children the chance to show their creative sides. They have been working together to create dramas and dance routines ‘on the stage’.

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

The equipment from Playforce provides a range of activities for the children to choose from and they are always keen to have a go. We have noticed an increased confidence in a number of children who are now much happier to try new things. At playtimes and dinnertimes the playground is full of interest and enthusiasm, the children are always excited to head outside and explore.

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

Using the playground as an incentive has worked really well in St Patrick’s. The new outdoor space is a great motivator – the children work hard to gain an extra slot on the equipment.