Case study: DEAN OAKS Primary School – Mrs Ciaputa, Head Teacher
New world of outdoor fun
at Dean Oaks in Wilmslow
There’s a new world of fun at Dean Oaks Primary School thanks to Pentagon, expert providers of playground equipment, and a Lottery-funded grant.
Since January 2010, the children have renewed interest in the outdoor area, as they enjoy themselves on the colourful roadway safety surfacing, the hopscotch and in the inspiring playhouse & garden. “The road is fun,” says Jessica, aged 4 ¾. “I like playing on the hopscotch!” says Joshua, 5.
When I meet teacher Helen Wright, I can immediately feel how proud she is of the outdoor playground they are now able to offer since the Infant & Junior schools merged last year to become Dean Oaks. Ms Wright has been teaching Reception for approximately 8 years now and has seen many changes along the way. “With the merger, it was an obvious opportunity for a fresh start, with new resources, both indoor and outdoor.” The area allocated for the two Foundation stage classrooms was fantastic, with large windows looking out onto the fenced outdoor play area enabling free-flow, but something was definitely lacking. There was a great deal of tarmac and not much colour. “Now, the children really WANT to go outside, in all weathers, and as part of child-initiated learning, we allow them to choose where they want to go and when. They love it out there!” added Ms Wright.
The brief which Pentagon was faced with was not only to add to the current provision to meet all six areas of the EYFS curriculum, but also to provide outside playground equipment which children are excited by and which allows them to use their own ideas and imagination.
“We’ve had picnics on the Playturf outside the house obviously, and during Chinese New Year the house became a Chinese Take Away and the bikes turned into delivery vans for the takeaways! During our Wildlife Week, the house turned into a bird hide! We follow the children’s interests for our theme planning. The games on the colourful surfacing have provided a focus for some of our adult-directed activities outside, making use of the caterpillar and hopscotch for numeracy and literacy work.”
Pentagon prides itself on offering a consultative approach, working with schools to maximise the potential of their grounds and outdoor playgrounds. Our aim is to create outdoor playground equipment areas to stimulate imaginations and provide inspiration. And this is exactly what has happened in this case between Pentagon and Dean Oaks.
Ms Wright said the new playground has enhanced the appearance of the area & the opportunities for children within child-initiated learning – it makes for happier children in a beautiful environment.