Paxton Academy, Croydon

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The Wandle Learning Trust was able to marry its vision with the values delivered by Hand Made Places to commission the successful transformation of an Early Years playground.
The fully equipped outdoor area was designed for youngsters in the Reception classes at Paxton Academy, which is one of four schools run by the trust.
The academy’s seven core values aim to empower pupils to gain confidence, take risks and seize opportunities.
It wanted its outdoor area to be a safe place for children to run, climb, jump and have fun but also a place to learn through play.
Working with the school we came up with a design which maximised the narrow playground space to its full potential.
Together we devised a layout which included equipment to support activities and experiences for children under the three prime areas of the Early Years curriculum: communication and language; physical development; personal, social and emotional development.
From our imaginative play range, we ensured the area was packed with opportunities for children to engage in role play and activities which encourage conversation and the sharing of ideas.
This included a Teepee at one end of the playground and a Playden further along the site, both offering shade and shelter as well as areas for outdoor learning, socialising and imaginative play.
To help little ones connect with the environment we created a bespoke digging area complete with Mud Kitchen and a Dragonfly Playground Sculpture was also chosen to feature in the play area.
Again the theme was reflected at the opposite end of the playground where an Extra Large Sandpit was installed along with Ocean Trays and Chute for water play.
Along the length of the playground a series of Activity Panels were installed to develop communication and language skills as well as self expression. These included a Chalk Board and bespoke Dry Wipe Board.
A Star Stage not only supports creativity and communication through the arts, it enables children to listen, observe and respond to performances from others.
Holey Poles, which can be used for den building and other games, were also chosen as a tool to encourage problem solving and physical development.
A Trim Trail made up of Balance Weaver, Balance Beam, Stepping Log and Tunnel Climber keep children active during lunch and play times while developing their core strength, stability, balance and co-ordination.
The project included all installation and ground works, with artificial grass surfacing completing the playground scheme.

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Croydon, South London

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