The following discussion points were taken from a report made by the Education Funding Agency entitled ‘Schools for the future: designing school grounds’ published on the 11th March 2014 and updated in July 2015. The document contains information, guidance, ideas and inspiration to help design and improve school playgrounds. In this Blog we will look at the different areas and discuss how we at Playground Imagineering can help you achieve the best play provision possible in your own playground.
Below are some of the key areas that we consider when we are designing your new play provision. Although classed as design issues, we like to refer to them as design challenges, as we always do our upmost to provide you with a design that fulfils the brief set before us.
Schools are places for children to learn and develop, and to do that the environment has to be encouraging and inviting. (As some people may say, it has to have the right vibe.) As well as the standard in class curriculum, there are tones of hidden curriculum in the play and school environment such as interacting with others, lifestyle choices and personal development. Playground spaces can be used to facilitate this as well as reflect the school values, ethos and culture. We have a range of products which help nurture all kinds of curriculum and with our design service you are guaranteed to get a bespoke design for your play space every time. At our initial meeting we like to take the time to understand not only the space but the children using it.
It is no secret that school funding is at a record low and with class sizes getting even bigger, it’s very hard to provide every provision on the schools wish list. As a communal space, a playground should meet the needs of as many children as possible, from large groups of active playing children to those individuals that like their own personal space. We pride ourselves on our quality and value for money by providing products that will keep on giving during their life time. From playground benches to multi-use games areas, we can provide products or design a playground that can help your play provision cater to a variety of different school needs and budgets.
Linking back to the previous point, access is an important part of planning a school playground which is why we undertake a thorough site visit as soon as we can. As well as obviously avoiding any hazards, access points and delivery areas, we consider the space and how it is going to be used by both the children and teachers. The ‘flow’ of the playground is a key point to consider, for instance making it easy for the teacher to bring their classroom outside as well as positioning provisions thoughtfully so to avoid a ball being kicked around next to a calm reflective garden. The idea of zoning in schools is very popular as it distinguishes between the high traffic, active areas and the calmer reflective spaces. Access also encompasses safety and security from teachers being able to supervise play to ensuring that equipment is positioned to make it difficult for intruders to access.
How can we use the space and provisions you already have? This is a driving factor when designing a play space and it also helps to keep costs down by sometimes reducing the amount of groundwork’s required. In recent years ‘natural play’ has played a big part in how playgrounds are developed. If you have a naturally grassy knoll, could we add a slide to make it into a play provision? See our Embankment Slide and Hilltop Tower on our website. Or if you have existing trees could we use them to add a play provision, check out Lever Edges Tree Village in projects. Areas of dirt/mud could also be transformed into messy play spaces. Understanding what is in the space and using it in an imaginative way could make the new play provision more attainable in terms of budget. It’s not just trees, plants and other existing natural elements that are to be considered, it is important to appreciate the seasons. An outdoor classroom, shelter or sail shade could make the playground accessible all year round by providing shade in the hot summer sun (when we get it) and allowing children to play and learn outside in wetter conditions.
All of our equipment comes with a guarantee which ranges from 1 to 15 years depending on the material used. For example, our laminated timber that is used to make our Fitness and Adventure Trails, comes with a 15 year guarantee against rot and insect infestation. When cared for correctly, equipment could last in excess of 10 years, we can supply a care guide for all of our equipment so you can get the most out of it. It may even be that the playground is designed so that the children can join in with the upkeep by providing outdoor taps and raised beds for everyone to access, which also facilitates many learning experiences.
All of our product range can be seen on our website along with a variety of our completed projects. An inspiration booklet with all of our most popular products is also available. If you would like to receive one, please get in touch and we will get one sent out to your school.
Our team are always happy to help, if you would like to book in for a free site visit and design or simply want to chat about what we can do for you, please fill in the call back request form on our website or call 01925 648959. Alternatively you can get in touch with our team via email, simply send a message to firstname.lastname@example.org and we will get back to you.
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