Akeley Wood Junior School, Buckinghamshire

As part of a complete refurbishment of their Early Years Department, Akeley Wood Junior School in Milton Keynes wanted to redevelop their playground. They wanted to create an outdoor space that would encourage free flow play that linked with their EY Curriculum throughout the school year - whatever the weather. They tell us how they are benefitting from their new outstanding outdoor space.

Why did you want to develop your playground?

Our school was going under a complete refurbishment of our Early Years Department and this was the perfect opportunity for us to upgrade our playground. We wanted to develop our outdoor space into one that was suitable for our younger children, aged between 12 months and 5 years, that could be used throughout the school year, whatever the weather.

What were the key elements that made Playforce stand out from other providers?

Our Playforce consultant, Neil, was enthusiastic, prompt about getting back to us and really helpful. He was able to provide suggestions, answer questions and had lots of experience working on similar projects. We knew we were in good hands and it was great to feel involved in all aspects of the process.
We had a very good experience working with them [Playforce] and can’t wait to see what the future of our playground holds.

How are you using the space to deliver outdoor learning and educational play?

The new Early Years playground is being used by all of our younger children, from babies to five year olds, to enjoy free flow play. It’s made it easy to move between the classroom and the playground whilst supporting the Early Years Curriculum.

What are the biggest benefits you have seen for the children?

It’s been amazing to see the Early Years children engaged in their play and eager to get outside in all weathers. They don’t need any motivation to get outside and active, even if it’s raining. They take care of their new environment and are proud of their new equipment. They are really enjoying playing in the learning zones, it’s a very easy transition to take learning outside. The children love the bike tracks, it’s great to see them so excited about exercise.

Can you share any practice insights you have gained?

Listen to what the children want and then do your best to recreate it! The best way to know what equipment the children will enjoy the most is to ask them. We found that getting the children involved in the design process inspired everyone and gave the children a sense of pride and ownership that has led to them taking such great care of the new space.

Any other comments about your experience of working with Playforce?

The whole team at Playforce were highly professional, friendly and experienced. We had a very good experience working with them and can’t wait to see what the future of our playground holds.