Why did you want to develop your playground?
The outside area had been neglected over the years and as well as being unsafe was also uninspiring with little to promote children’s development. The area consisted of a barked area that was showing the ripped groundsheet and a waterlogged grass area. The play equipment was old and falling apart.
Many children come into our foundation stage without many outdoor experiences and we wanted an area that fostered independence and would inspire the imagination.
What were the key elements that made Playforce stand out from other tenders?
Playforce were reliable and professional. Contact was kept throughout the process from start to finish despite there being a change of focus part way through owing to a change of leadership. Our ideas were listened to and suggestions shared to ensure we could provide the best level of provision for our children but within an identified budget.
The products we chose were of good quality and durable, an important factor within Early Years. The designs that were shared with us were detailed enough for us to visualise the finished effect. Despite it being a busy time of year Playforce assured us that they could complete the works within a limited timescale.
The Themed Learning Project of curriculum resources and Playforce bear added interest for the children and they were able to become involved with the whole process from design to completion.
How are you using the space to deliver outdoor learning and educational play?
The children now benefit from different outdoor areas to generate curiosity, problem solving skills and independence. The area is now freely accessible and all children can access throughout the day. There are different areas for children to explore in which the children can act, sing, dance, play musical instruments, role play, weave, run, roll, and crawl. The use of different textures has lead to discussions and investigational work, making comparisons. The children love acting and singing on the stage as well as the Billy Goat’s bridge. – Great for literacy, speaking and listening and phonics work. The giant sand pit is so popular children have been metal detecting, digging for treasure, making castles and a wide range of activities which develop their fine and gross motor skills as well as their understanding of the world, wet and dry sand and has grasped their imagination. The story telling area is used by individuals or groups, the children love to be the story teller in the special chair. The wild area has been great for insect hunt and for building dens. Children have planted seeds and plants as well as growing their own vegetables which they then used to make soup.
What are the biggest benefits you have seen for the children?
The children are taking responsibility for their own learning /play. They are more sociable and interact more readily with each other. Children want to be outside whatever the weather. They have developed a real love of learning outside. The children now have freedom to run, jump, dig etc. in a safe, secure and interesting area. Children are making developmental progress and want to come to school.
Can you share any practice insights you have gained?
Through being able to access things freely and safely the children have gained in confidence and independence. Having artificial grass means children can go outside in all weathers.
Having different zones means the area caters for all children – physical, noisy and quiet. The area caters for all ages and stages of development.
Michelle Shearer, Deputy Headteacher and EYFS leader.