As part of their School Development Plan, Stanton Bridge Primary vowed that the school must have a beautiful and productive learning environment, and this project has gone a long way to provide one.
They wanted to provide a stimulating outdoor play area environment for pupils aged 3-5 to enhance learning in the three prime areas of communication and language, physical development and Personal, Social Education. There was also a particular emphasis on literacy, as the school serves a large multi cultural community where there is a high proportion of children with English as a second language.
We consulted with the Head Mrs Sofina Islam OBE and other key members of staff and discussed various initial ideas in terms of product and design for the space. We looked at relevant products to encourage communication and language as a starting point. For example; the dragon planter, a role play train station, animal face panels, a farm area, a micro world table, musical instruments and water play. Literacy could then evolve from this and the pupils interest would be ignited by the playscape and its contents.
We then looked at Physical play suitable to the age of the children – hidey-holes and basic motor skills for 3 yr olds, climbing for 4+ 5 yr olds, the use of coloured areas to encourage movement around the area.
The PSE element transgressed across all the products as the children shared and develop their own self-esteem and confidence through the numerous opportunities provided.
After the initial draft was presented the school made some minor amendments and a final design was agreed upon. We completed the whole project within three weeks.
The children have just completed their first half term in the new area. Active learning, playing and investigating have all improved considerably in an outdoor environment. Communication and language has been enhanced, as they are encouraged to express themselves in role-play and in reflection of their time outdoors.
Confidence in physical play has improved as children enhance their skills in movement, coordination and spatial awareness. The children have ample opportunities to try new things outside, take turns, cooperate and respect each other; and perhaps most importantly they have an opportunity everyday to experience fun activities with their peers to help develop their well-being.