An inspiring playground development for all ages at St Andrew's Primary School
Our Southern Director, James Collis-Pritchard, worked with St Andrew’s Head Teacher, Joanna Giles, to transform the school’s main playground area and create zones for different styles of learning.
Joanna Giles spoke of her great working relationship with James:
“James brought a lot of knowledge and suggested a lot of ideas. I was lucky enough to manage to get the funding through our budget at the time to fund that provision. This phase went so well that we looked at developing the early year’s space and nursery garden which was funded through People Deprivation”.
The huge concrete area at the heart of the school, was the main focus of the development.
As this playground is used by all ages, it was important to choose a good variation of playground equipment suitable for all.
The perfect playground space for group activities, physical development and imaginative play
The biggest playground addition, was our Outdoor Play Castle, custom-built to suit the school’s requirements.
What’s more fun than having your very own castle?
This huge resource, will encourage active play and inspire children to create ‘fairy-tale inspired’ games.
Alongside the Castle, we added our Skiddaw Climber, Log & Net Climber with Tunnel and our Tunnel with Ramp Over. These active resources are aligned to slowly challenge the children in a physical manner, testing both their upper and lower body strength while also developing their gross motor skills.
Younger early years children, will be able to climb through the tunnel and over the ramp to improve stability and lower body strength.
Once they develop and grow in confidence, the early years’ children will have the ability and choice to move onto the more difficult climbing challenges to progress their development further.
We have also given the area its own outdoor classroom with the addition of our 5M Hexagonal Gazebo.
Teachers will now be able to take entire classrooms outside to create engaging outdoor lessons. The children can also use the Gazebo as a sheltered area for socialising, quiet reading and reflection.
To add further variation to children’s play, we incorporated two of our Wigwam structures. These resources will encourage den-making and pretend play activities… "the American Indians have just conquered the St Andrew’s castle and have now set up camp in the Wigwams!"
A trail of truck tyres has created a space for children to truly test their core balance and stability.
Children will love testing themselves to cross the tyre trail in different ways, directions, and methods. “There is only one direction to go and the Artificial Grass has turned into super-hot lava! Can u cross the trail without falling in?”
The playground surface was also developed as we covered the area with a colourful and bespoke Wetpour Surfacing design.
We also used our excellent playground landscaping techniques, to create a fun and imaginative play mound. Moreover, we added some excellent Thermoplastic Targets and other engaging markings.
All of this, has helped transform the playground floor into an eye-catching zone for both play and learning.
Further surfacing developments, included a large rectangular area which was created using our natural looking artificial grass.
This open space, gives children a place to move, roll, jump, participate in sport and relax. The artificial grass gives the area a fresh and green outlook and creates a much safer place to play.
P.E teachers can now take full advantage of this particular area during lessons.
Joanna Giles said:
“It has enhanced PE lessons. They have been doing circuit training on the Tyres and timing each other”.
We also added a fantastic Trim Trail to the area which includes 8 different challenges that will test children’s balance, sore stability, strength, grip and rasp and gross motor skills.
Take a look at our fantastic range of active playground equipment here.
St Andrew's new zone for investigative learning
The school wanted us to create an area that would encourage their children to experiment and learn through investigation.
Within the area, the school was very keen on creating a completely Bespoke Fire Pit. With our ability to create bespoke products, we designed and installed an excellent and natural looking fire pit.
We surrounded the pit with Perch Benches, to help create a campfire setting and encourage children to pretend they were camping and sing their own campfire songs.
Moreover, we installed the following additions to the investigative play area:
Den Posts – with the addition of some materials, children will be able to build their own dens and create a place for games and storytelling.
Bug Hotel – the children will love examining the creepy crawlies that their new Bug Hotel will attract. They will also feel a sense of responsibility, as they work to maintain the hotel. As different types of bugs decide to call their hotel home, the children will feel a sense of achievement because they know they’ve created the perfect home for each different creature.
Willow Fencing – an uncommon type of fencing that works perfectly to fit within a natural environment and one that works well for resources that incorporate natural play.
Rope & Pulley – A way for children to build their own quarry and transfer materials between different messy play resources. It’s also a great way for children to build on their communication and language skills.
A space for expressive arts, literacy and group discussions
We installed an excellent timber canopy which transforms into St Andrew’s Outdoor Learning Barn. This open-ended and sheltered resource, could be used for outdoor lessons or even as a meeting place before children embark into the investigative play area.
On the other side of the playground, we installed a bespoke outdoor performance stage which includes a ramp, den posts and moveable artificial grass topped seats.
This is the perfect setting for classes and groups of children to practice performance and develop skills such as voice projection.
Along with the performance area, we created a zone specifically for reading, mark making and literacy. This area includes a story telling chair, fixed benches, moveable seats and mark making boards.
You can see our range of outdoor performance stages here.
Improvements to the Nursery playground
The Nursery’s outdoor area previously lacked engaging play equipment fpr both sensory and imaginative play.
To help improve the outdoor environment, we installed the following sensory and natural resources:
- Mini Mud Kitchen
- Medium Dig Pit
- Sand Box
- Water Wall with Damming station
- Planter Benches
The other additions included a Story Telling Chair and a Mini Playhouse.
You can view all of our imaginative and creative play products here.
An interview with the Head Teacher...
We re-visited the school and asked Joanna Giles (Head Teacher), some questions on this fantastic development…
Comparing what your space was previously like to now, is there a difference in terms of moving and creating curricular activities outdoors?
“Huge difference! As you can see we are a very urban school and when I arrived 2 ½ years ago, there was no outdoor facilities. The playground was simply a rectangular concrete patch, so in terms of shifting pedagogy, it was just huge. I have now employed a teaching assistant full time in the infants to lead outdoor learning, constantly rotating groups to go outside”.
“All reception and nursery classes have direct access to the outside, so it has enhanced their provision. We have set up areas for den-making, role play, investigation and all things math and literacy”.
Have you seen a difference in the follow on through to the classroom?
“Definitely! We were having more than 100 incidents a term, where children were just bored and had nothing to do. That has reduced and we have seen less than 8 incidents this term. So, significant improvements”.
Joanna Giles, had this to say about working with Pentagon Play:
“Comparing the work of other outside companies, there is no comparison. The teams that have been on site have been early, they have all worked hard and communicated well with the school”.
Are you looking to develop your outdoor learning environment? Fill out our Contact Form, and we will be in touch to book a free playground consultation. Alternatively, you can call us on 01625 890 330 (North Office) or 0117 379 0899 (South Office) and speak to one of our advisors.