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New Islington Free School's Outdoor Play Space

An active play space to encourage daily exercise and positive mental well-being!

A huge new all-weather, multi-use playground surfacing scheme and some fantastic climbing features for pupils at New Islington Free School in Manchester....

Working closely with Head Teacher Tabitha Smith to help fulfill her vision for the school’s sports and recreation facilities, our playground consultants, Natalie Richardson and Paul Bayliss, have injected a brand new energy into the outdoor spaces at New Islington Free School in Manchester.

The Components of a long lasting, all-weather outdoor play space


We’ve transformed the main school field, opening up the space as a giant multi-use games area that can be enjoyed in all weathers, and for all kinds of outdoor sports and games.

For a high-end sports facility such as this, in order to ensure maximum durability and longevity for the school, it’s essential to get the base works right. The ‘boring’ bits that are hidden away from view under the surface are what we at Pentagon can get quite animated about - it’s all in the prep work!

Aerial view of 11 children playing on 2 huge multi-use games area pitches, one of them is bright blue, the other one is green with football pitch markings on it. The pitches have been installed next to the school building.

We excavated the entire area, disposed of the spoil, and then built up the grounds with our super standard dynamic play MOT sand and grano base layers - rather like building a giant lasagne! This is key to making sure that the whole extent of the area will be safe, sturdy and self-draining with no chance of water-pooling over the years.

Our installers work hard to ensure that the groundworks are as smooth and flat as a pancake, so that the finished result is absolutely perfect. At New Islington the installation ran all the existing gradients, and we took care to ensure there would be no potential for potholes or trip hazards.

Now for the exciting bits that you can actually see!

Aerial view of 2 multi-use games areas, one is bright blue and one is green with football pitch markings. There are 6 children walking next to the blue pitch towards the school building. The pitches have been installed next to the school building and a smaller playground.

Multi-Sports Facilities


We installed a combination of our Playturf Artificial Grass, and our FIFA quality Multi-Sport Tufted San-Siro Artificial Grass surfacing, across the entire area.

We marked out football and hockey pitches with our Inlaid 3G Sports Lines. The children at New Islington love their sports options, and are enjoying daily enhanced outdoor PE lessons and after-school games with all the new space they have to hand.

Aerial view of a green multi-use games area with football pitch markings on it. Behind the football pitch is another multi-use games area which is bright blue. These have been installed onto artificial grass next to the white school building.

It’s worth its weight in gold as a social hub at New Islington too - a great environment for groups of children to get together and enjoy themselves through physical activity, which is hugely important for their mental health and wellbeing. 

2 multi-use games areas, one is bright blue with 2 children playing on it. The second muga is green with football pitch markings on it with 9 children playing on it and one child is stood in the football next. In the background, there are lots of tall city buildings.

An Inclusive Outdoor Learning Space


Over on the opposite side of the school building, we installed a long strip of Playturf Deluxe Artificial Grass (complete with Dynamic Play Baseworks of course!) running along the school’s boundary fence at the edge of the existing playground.

The school wanted to make full use of this outer section of the playground that was going to waste for much of the year, as the ground was of unsuitable quality for play.

Aerial view of playground transformation which includes 2 new multi-use games areas, one is blue and one is green. There are more than 10 children stood on the artificial grass next to the school building.

By installing our Artificial Grass, we were able to transform this into a retained, beautifully tactile all-weather space that can now be accessed and enjoyed all year round.

The Artificial Grass itself is soft and clean for children to sit on. We added a set of Perch Benches to one end overlooking the playground, to create an inclusive space for groups of children to sit together and enjoy targeted outdoor learning, as well as a space to relax at break times.

Aerial view of playground transformation which includes 2 new multi-use games areas, one is blue and one is green. The playground is located next to the school car park which has 13 cars parked in it.

A Mega Trim Trail Challenge


To keep children active and using their imaginations at play times - and having lots of fun stretching their bodies and developing their skills in all manner of ways - we installed a mega Trim Trail Adventure challenge onto the new strip of Artificial Grass.

Our Trim Trails are brilliant resources for maximising available space - they can be laid in any direction to fit a school’s existing layout, and with a huge choice of challenge options to suit their pupils’ needs.

A trim trail with 9 different challenges has been installed onto artificial grass next to the school fencing. There are 5 children playing on the trim trail whilst one child waves to the camera, one child walks to the start of the trim trail and one child stands with a teacher.

We built a bespoke Trim Trail Adventure for New Islington, featuring the following combination of physical challenges:

  • A Single-Sided Timber Climbing Wall
  • A Set of 6 Climbing Poles
  • A Walk and Stretch
  • A Tightrope Bridge
  • 2 Large Stepping Logs
  • A Swinging Log Traverse
  • A Mini Balance Beam
  • A Net Traverse
  • A Log Weaver
  • 20 Truck Tyres

New Islington Free School has so much variety to offer pupils with their new outdoor facilities, both in fulfilling the requirements of the curriculum and as part of their ‘Wraparound Club’ before and after-school care. It really is great to see the children getting outdoors, getting active and enjoying themselves through their learning once again.

Are you thinking about new outdoor learning and sport options for your school? We can help! You can find out more about our work with schools and nurseries across the UK, and view our full range of Outdoor Learning, Play and Sports Products Here.

Please do Contact Us to arrange a free, no-obligation consultation with one of our experts.

Aerial view of the school playground transformation which includes 2 multi-use games area's, one green and one blue, and a huge trim trail. There are old city buildings behind the school and a canal on the right-hand side of the school.