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SEN Playground Design at The Willows School

An Amazing SEN Playground Design for Learning, Laughter and Friendship


Daniel Young, one of our expert playground consultants, felt privileged to work with the wonderful staff and pupils of The Willows school in Rotherham.

The school caters for children aged 7-19 with a range of moderate learning difficulties or additional needs.

Headteacher, Rachael Booth, wanted to create a variety of outdoor spaces that would allow the children to learn, play, be physically active and socialise with friends. 

The new outdoor classroom

Their new, large outdoor classroom provide pupils with a fantastic place to learn within the school’s natural surroundings. The space can be used by all classes throughout the school and allows children to learn collaboratively in the ‘open-air’.

We built a bespoke Gable–End Outdoor Classroom that provides the perfect shelter in all weathers thanks to the waterproof roof.

a birds eye view of our canopy

The use of high quality ‘play grade’ timber and log cladding adds to the impressive appearance of the room and ensures that it complements the leafy surroundings at The Willows school.

The classroom is equipped with wooden benches that can comfortably accommodate full classes. Pupils have already been busy using the mark making whiteboards when drawing and explaining frog life cycles.

children sat on picnic benches under our canopy

A wide variety of subject areas can be taught within this inspiring learning environment. Nature studies, science and geography lessons have been totally transformed with more opportunities for hands-on learning.

The Willows School have installed a power source within the classroom so that projectors and speakers could be used to provide further learning possibilities.

one young boy writting on our whiteboard

Take a seat under the Gazebo

The Willows school has lovely, extensive grounds to work with, therefore we were able to install our largest 7.5m Octagonal Gazebo with a Decked Base.

It really is the perfect place for lessons, school clubs or for the secondary school classmates to socialise. The benches provide various seating options, in fact the space can comfortably seat 70 children!

two children sat underneath our gazebo

It was wonderful to hear plenty of laughter as pupil sat around the inner bench chatting and making plans.

With all of our installations at The Willows School we created bespoke ramps to ensure easy access for all learners.

five childrne playing in our gazebo

Learning beneath the Canopy


We were able to provide an impressive third area for outdoor learning with our Canopy project.

The school now has various options for different classes or small groups to be learning outside at the same time, in all seasons.

a front view of our canopy

The creative, outdoor space can be used for so many different aspects of school life it could be a place to practise, to gather with friends, to relax, revise or simply observe.

Pupils at The Willows school have been showing off their green fingers by growing a variety of plants.

a few children gardening under our canopy

An Area for Active Play

To add a fun, physical challenge to breaktimes we installed a terrific Trim Trail area. There are a number of obstacles to conquer and this space seems to have excited children the most.

Pupils have enjoyed freely moving around the course and choosing the equipment they would like to explore.

Balance and core strength has been demonstrated when tackling the swinging logs and many imaginative games have been devised when crossing the beams.

two boys playing on our trim trail

Climbing skills have progressed by crossing the wall and gripping the poles.

Our artificial grass surfacing and installation of a shockpad layer gives ultimate safety and a wonderful soft, natural feel.

Blue safeturf splashes provide a stimulus for games and could be used to sit on and play a board game or do some drawing.

a birds eye view of our trim trail

Staff at The Willows school are extremely pleased to be able to offer such outstanding outdoor spaces to their children after spending time in Lockdown.

Part of the installation of this project took place in term time and our brilliant installers were more than happy to answer children’s questions and explain how problems were solved.

The Willows school would definitely recommend us to neighbouring schools and we were thrilled to work with such an inspiring setting that provides children with skills for life.

a side view of our trim trail

The Willows prides itself on being a school with a ‘can do’ ethos. We hope to have transformed their outdoor space to create areas where everyone can work together, co-operate and achieve their goals.

Are you thinking about new playground and outdoor learning options? We can help! You can find out more about our work with schools and nurseries, and view our full range of outdoor learning, play and sports products here. You can also view our tried and tested range of specialist playground equipment for children with Special Education Needs here.

Please do Contact Us to arrange a free, no-obligation consultation. Alternatively, you can view all of our outstanding playground projects completed in the Rotherham area on our dedicated Rotherham Playground Projects Page Here.

two children sat on our picnic bench