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A Sensory Wonderland for Highfields Spencer Academy

A colourful, climbing transformation for Highfields Spencer Academy


Staff and children at Highfields Spencer Academy in Derby have been having so much fun exploring their new equipment.

Improving active play and creating interesting spaces for outdoor learning were top priorities for the school which places great importance on the many benefits of learning within nature.


Reaching for the top at Highfields Spencer



A once plain, open space, full of potential, is now home to our impressive Puzzlewood Forest Circuit. The huge climber has caused quite a stir at Highfields Spencer!

There are numerous obstacles to conquer and different levels to reach. Pupils feel as though they are swinging through the trees as they cross the wobbly log traverse and jump to the next platform.

a birdseye view of the puzzlewood timber circuit whilst children run around and play with artificial grass playturf beneath it

Core stability and strength are needed to tackle the net tunnel. Climbers will feel like they’ve reached the top of Everest as they succeed in touching the top of the triangular climber.

We installed deluxe artificial grass playturf underneath the active play zone. Our artificial grass is extremely hard-wearing, yet soft to touch, giving a realistic feel. A shockpad tile layer was fitted to ensure maximum protection if any trips or falls were to occur. A shockpad layer allows pupils to explore playing at different heights and allows them to take safe risks.

children in black and white school uniform run around on the puzzlewood timber climbing frame climbing across the timber logs

Where will pupils’ imagination take them?


Located in the EYFS outdoor area, our Imagination Station is an open-ended resource that young children will enjoy all year long. An ideal place for imaginative games, children could be blasting off into space, steering the ship to safety, or giving a performance to a roaring crowd!

Den-making posts provide further opportunities for creative play. The coloured panels and bubble window make this a very cool place to hang out with friends whilst developing new vocabulary and social skills.

five pupils in black and white school uniform stand on an artificial grass surfaced ramp and look at the camera and the floor respoectively as they wlak up to the sensory panels surrounding the little imagination station den in their playground

Forces can be explored by placing different materials on the ramp and testing toy cars. There is plenty of space for young scientists to draw and write their results on the mark-making panels.

This inviting space opens up many curriculum opportunities. Storytime will transport children on a brand-new adventure each day as they get cosy in their amazing, elevated reading nook.

children sit within the imagination station den at the top of the ramp and push a toy car down the ramp and smile and laugh as it rolls down

An outdoor oasis!


Highfields Spencer Academy opted for a stunning sensory gazebo that offers a quiet space in the playground where children can relax and gather with friends. A beautiful spot for outdoor learning, the classroom is equipped with a giant chalkboard and can comfortably sit whole classes.

When the sunlight hits the polycarbonate panels the interior of the classroom is filled with rainbows of light which provides a calming, sensory experience.

children within a sensory gazebo on the floor and on timber benches,, they wear black and white school uniform and there is a giant chalkboard against one of the walls, there are also colourful sensory bubble windows in red, yellow and blue

The rainbow panels certainly fit with Highfields Spencer Academy’s RAINBOW vision which stands for Respect, Achieve, Inspire, Nurture, Belong, Open, and Well-Being; wonderful attributes for the children to uphold.

We finished off the outdoor classroom area with the addition of freestanding chimes that help children to learn basic notes that can be performed in the wonders of nature. A giant mirror encourages dramatic play and self-awareness helping rising stars with their intonation and diction.

It was a pleasure to create a stimulating outdoor environment for pupils at Highfields Spencer Academy. We hope to have created a challenging space full of excitement, fun, and real wow moments!

a teacher leads a class in the sensory gazebo as most children sit gathered around in a semi circle on benches and some sit on the floor, the teacher is wearing a big grey jumper and the children wear a black and white school uniform

If this sounds like a transformation that you would welcome at your school then please, Contact Us Here!

Or, take a look at some of our other Projects in Derby!

children play in the sensory gazebo and with musical instruments and look up at the drone flying above them as they smile and laugh