School council help design new playground equipment

Christ Church C of E Primary School get a new playhouse.

Christ Church C of E Primary School is located in a very built up area of Camden in central London with 230 pupils between the ages of 3 and 11. For many children opportunities for outdoor play are extremely limited at home so the school has worked particularly hard to provide resources to facilitate play. The award of ‘Achievement For All’ funding focussed attention on the playground. There was space for energetic play, such as football, but limited areas for children to exercise their imagination.

Miss Louise Prevett, deputy headteacher, felt a playhouse would be a valuable addition to the playground and set about researching options via the Internet. The Educational Play website caught her eye, not least due to the capability to create bespoke solutions, and the school’s senior leadership team agreed to proceed. Louise explains how the project progressed in a participative way. She says, “The school has a very active Council made up of pupils from every class. As this was a facility specifically to encourage play it was ideal to involve the Council right from the beginning. Richard Frost from the company paid us a visit and met with the children. He then came back and presented his drawings to them, reflecting many of their ideas and of course adding others from his own experience. The plans were shown to all the children in the school and this just added to the sense of anticipation. A priority for the children was that we created a realistic house so it had to have a chimney of course as well as window boxes to allow us to plant flowers. We agreed to leave the inside pretty well empty as the children felt this would be more flexible and allow different types of play. The children also helped to choose the colour scheme and the realistic roof tiles option”.

As plans were finalised it was decided to also order a play shelter so more children could play at any one time as well as providing seating for children to rest. There was great excitement as Educational Play installers Matt and Mark arrived and how quickly the transformation of the playground was complete. According to Louise the playhouses integrate perfectly with curriculum guidelines. She says, “I feel personally that children have too few opportunities to relax together and play imaginatively. Given the opportunity children up to and including Key Stage 2 age love to dress up and pretend play, whether they are looking after babies or cooking the evening meal! We have provided some props and outfits and it is just a joy to see how the children invent their own fun. The playhouse has given our children a new dimension and it is an ideal facility to encourage role play, particularly in an inner city area where outside spaces at home can be limited. We have a number of ‘playground friends’ who look out for children who may need company or are a little upset. The playhouse and shelter are also a perfect place for them to retreat for a little time and space of their own”.