Calthorpe Special School, Warwickshire

Calthorpe Special School in Birmingham wanted to create a playground that would offer a unique experience for each child. Headteacher Mr Hardy tells us how their new outdoor learning environment has encouraged creative thinking and exploration.

Why did you want to develop your playground?

We wanted to develop our playground in order to enhance our pupil’s experiences of outdoor play and exploration. Being a school that has pupils with such complex needs, we needed our designs to offer a unique experience to each child. Outdoor play is viewed by everyone at Calthorpe as an integral part of our pupils’ entitlement to an education. We wanted to represent this within our playground.

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

Calthorpe Special School has used Playforce before and we were already very happy with the products that we had purchased. Playforce offers the most appropriate equipment for our pupils. For example, we knew that we wanted to build a musical trail for the children and this was something that Playforce was able to offer.
The new equipment has helped the children develop their investigative, musical and creative skills.

How are we using the space to deliver outdoor learning & educational play?

Now that we have an improved outdoor space, classes are taken outside and the children and staff are encouraged to use the equipment throughout the day. We’ve adapted a number of uses for the chalk and perspex boards including covering them shaving foam for mark making and adding paper for mud painting. During breaks and lunchtime, the dinner supervisors and staff encourage the pupils to use the equipment in a more informal and imaginative way.

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

The new equipment has helped the children develop their investigative, musical and creative skills. They enjoy working together to find new ways of using the products and are well supported by staff, who encourage creative thinking.

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

At Calthorpe we try to be as creative as possible. Each piece of equipment from Playforce has lots of uses and it is important to try and use them in as many different ways as possible. Ensure that all members of staff are fully aware of the capabilities of the products and that they are always encouraging the children to be imaginative.

A big thank you to everyone at Playforce from all the staff and pupils at Calthorpe School.