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Inspiring Outdoor Area & MUGA at Westbrook Primary School

With over 25 years of working within the playground design industry, Pentagon Play have become go-to experts for a lot of schools who are wanting to create an engaging and fun play area.

However, play areas don't have to be built solely for the purpose of play. They can also be built to help children through their learning journey.

How can this be done? By creating an effective and engaging outdoor learning environment.

Outdoor Learning Environment

Outdoor learning environments allow children to learn a wide variety of brilliant skills whilst having fun and engaging with one another.

With Children spending over 4,000 hours in a classroom setting during their early childhood, a change of scenery can do your pupils the world of good.

From improving social skills to creativity, outdoor learning is a great method of education for any school to include within their curriculum.

2 children are playing with the Pentagon sandbox. The kids are using some different tools, like a brush and shovel, to move the sand around. Outside the box, the artificial grass can be seen, creating a colourful environment,

Pentagon Play have helped thousands of schools to create a fantastic outdoor learning environment which aims to engage and support young people developing their skills, whilst having fun.

One school who had a fantastic experience working with us and creating a brilliant outdoor learning environment was Westbrook Old Hall Primary school. Find out how we helped the Old Hall school office plan and create a great outdoor learning area by reading on.

The Customer

Westbrook Old Hall Primary School, located in Warrington, aim to provide high quality learning experiences where children are challenged to be the best they can be. Outdoor play is at the heart of their early years provision with learners given opportunities to explore, investigate and discover.

Westbrook Primary School are an inclusive school, meaning that children with special educational needs are included and don't feel segregated.

Parents and the wider community have a lot of positive things to say about Westbrook Primary and their EYFS provision. No matter the child, they'll find success by learning with Westbrook.

Their Objectives

The school wanted to completely redevelop their outdoor space for Reception classes by creating a range of stimulating zones to promote physical, social and emotional development. Another key priority was updating the current surfacing in the school’s Multi-Use Games Area (MUGA.)

4 children are sat inside the Pentagon Small Playhouse as they look at the camera, smiling. The small playhouse allows the children to play and have fun.

It was very important that both of the projects were accessible and inclusive for all types of children, as the school didn't want any child to feel excluded. In addition, making it accessible would avoid any child falling behind on the curriculum.

Our Approach

With this school wanting to improve their spaces to encourage the children to go outdoors and improve the children's wellbeing and understanding of certain aspects of play, we knew that we would have to get this project sorted quickly but not sacrificing quality.

The resurfaced MUGA would provide a child with the freedom to play a wide variety of different sports, without safety being sacrificed. In addition, it would help improve a child's autonomy and help them flourish in all aspects of physical abilities.

On the other hand, the outdoor stimulating zones would have a wide variety of different pieces of sensory, construction, nature and messy play equipment.

Outdoor Stimulating Zones

Once the site was prepared the new outdoor shelters were erected. Two Freestanding Timber Canopies attached to indoor classrooms create a free-flow environment enabling daily access to outdoor provision. The strong timber frames are built to last and the polycarbonate roof protects from the elements whilst creating a lovely, light, airy space in which to play.

A freestanding timber canopy attached to the school. Underneath the canopy is a wide variety of different play equipment, designed to help children develop their skills. The flooring is Playturf Artificial Grass.

Playturf Deluxe Artificial Grass creates a natural feel which instantly appeals to learners. Splashes of Safeturf add pops of colour and a new roadway is perfect for vehicle play.

When designing the space, the large raised area was carefully considered in order to maximise learning potential. The use of Bow Top Timber Fencing and Stairs has created a safe yet exciting area for messy exploration!

A child is stood on timber states as he looks over to the active play area. At the top of the staircase, where the child is stood, is where the messy play area is. The active play area has the playturf deluxe artificial grass flooring whilst the messy play area has the wooden bark chops as it's flooring.

Learners are free to investigate their new resources which include:

Pupils develop gross motor skills when transferring materials to the Mud Kitchen where imaginative ideas are communicated as learners work together to make their new recipes!

A young child playing with a mud kitchen. The young boy is using a soup spoon as they scoop mud in and out of the containers,

Many of the new resources focus on physical development and the Pinnacle Hill Climber is certainly a favourite piece. With practise and repetition pupils improve their climbing skills, developing strength as they learn to grip and grasp. A Small Covered Sand Box which children love climbing into, encourages collaborative digging and creating!

Pupils can practise, rehearse and revise their ideas using their Performance Stage with Den Posts. Drum Seas are great for audience members to sit back and watch the show or join in by banging the panels to create their own tunes. A short walk away sits the Small Playhouse which can be transformed according to children’s interests. A fantastic space for pupils to interact and develop communication skills.

6 children are playing with the outdoor Performance Stage with Den Posts. The Performance Stage is black with star patterns on it and 3 children are sat on the fence that is behind it.

A Freestanding Storytelling Chair with accompanying Giant Chalkboard on Posts creates a cosy reading space where tales can be listened to, spoken about, images drawn and new stories created.

Multi-Use Games Area Surfacing

The second project undertaken at Westbrook involved a complete update of the school’s MUGA. All weather Artificial Grass provides a fantastic finish and feel. Not only does it look great, but our artificial grass has also passed FIFA's rigorous durability tests.

A group of children are on a MUGA which has been resurfaced by Pentagon Play. A girl is in net as a boy kicks a ball towards her.

With our high quality shockpad, the school can be at ease knowing that the chance of a serious injury occurring will be at a minimum. We also make sure that the pitch has excellent draining, avoiding any water damage occurring and keeping it accessible in all weather conditions.

Pupils can now access the pitch all year round and the addition of white sports lines and red and blue goal recesses encourages participation in different sporting activities. 

A drone shot of the MUGA from above. The MUGA is green with white lines which are football markings. The floor of both goals are different colours, that being red and blue. There are basketball hoops on the green fence that goes around the pitch.

From a simple resurface, we have turned an abandoned and unsafe games area into a fantastic MUGA for children to nurture their skills in sports and gain valuable physical and mental development. The netball and football teams are certainly happy with the newly improved facilities!

The Results

Early Years pupils at Westbrook Old Hall Primary can now actively learn through outdoor play on a regular basis. 

Children are challenged and stimulated and practitioners now have new and interesting ways to extend learning and development. Students are developing independence and decision making in their new special space, designed just for them.

5 Children are walking around the messy area which has been built by Pentagon Play. 2 Planters are full of mud and there's a pulley and mud kitchen on the other side of the area. The children are playing with all the equipment as they engage in messy play.

Parents and teachers are amazed by the new and improved outdoor learning areas and the vibrant MUGA, knowing that their children can play and learn in a great environment.