Angel Road Junior School, Norfolk

The School Council helped to form the basis for the new playground design at Angel Road Junior School in Norwich. Headteacher Len Holman explains how their new playground has provided an exciting addition to playtime activities.

Why did you want to develop your playground?

We wanted to develop our playground because it was little more than a large asphalt area. It didn’t contain any actual play equipment whatsoever. As a result, our school council was receiving an increasing requests from pupils for interesting things to do at break time. The council started to formulate ideas and plans and it soon became apparent that the idea of an activity/adventure play area was very popular with all year groups.

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

The ideas that Playforce came up with were well-presented, imaginative and professional. The teacher overseeing the project was consulted at every stage. The scheme to create the outdoor area excited the children from the very start. The quality of equipment on offer looked sound, solid and safe and our Playforce representative listened carefully to our needs and wishes.
The activity area has presented a whole new purpose to break times for the majority of children.

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

For us, the equipment is all about educational play. The equipment has been installed long enough that the children’s initial enthusiasm should have worn off by now… but we are delighted to discover that this has not been the case. We allow access to the equipment on a strict rota basis, to ensure that all children have the chance to use it. It also remains hugely popular before, during and after school. The children have of course developed numerous games and challenges for themselves and friends. The Net Climber and Scramble Wall in particular have proved to be most popular and you can see from the children’s excitement as their turn on the rota comes around how much they enjoy using the new equipment.

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

The activity area has presented a whole new purpose to break times for the majority of children. The children all now, naturally, engage with the equipment – even those that don’t often choose to extend themselves in subjects such as games or PE – and the Football Goal Ends have created a football pitch which no longer relies on strategically placed sweatshirts!

Can you share any best practice insights you’ve gained?

Only allowing one year group at a time to access the equipment on a daily rota is one advantage we quickly learnt. We have never been precious with the equipment as, after all, it is designed to be used extensively by robust junior-age children. Similarly we have encouraged children to be adventurous but mindful of safety for themselves and others and they have responded with great enthusiasm.