In 2016, we embarked upon upon the first phase of development of our Early Years Foundation Stage outside area. We identified the need to expand upon this much used outdoor learning evironment. We have been fortunate enough to receive some funding from the governing body and the Parents Association, Friends of Gawsworth.
Previously staff were not able to set up activities in the area prior to school starting, as this was a waiting/entrance area for all three classes in the infant department. As a result, the area was very busy in the morning and after school, and equipment and resources were being misused and in some cases accessed and left out or even damaged by toddlers waiting for school aged siblings. With this in mind, as a school we decided to alter the way in which we welcome our children into school each day and how we hand them over to parents and carers at the end of the school day.
The majority of the funding for Phase 1 was spent on hard landscaping - expanding the overall size of the area - removing the L-shaped raised wooden bed and renewing and extending the fencing up onto the grass area - joining with the main metal fencing at the front of the school. In conjunction with this, a small number of the bushes were removed and steps will be inserted, giving staff and children direct access to the grassed area and wigwam. The playhouse was moved, allowing access to the windows and wall behind. The surface in this small playground was replaced with a product called 'wet-flow', which has a rubberised tarmac texture to it. The new flooring is in 3 colours; green, yellow and blue. The yellow area contains a brand new heavy duty sandpit with shutter effect sliding lid. It is hoped in time that we can add to the blue zone with a tiered water tray as part of Phase 2 development. As we move around the side of the EYFS classroom where families currently enter, wall mounted chalkboards and a writing station have been added. On the grass along with the addition of the wigwam, we have some tree stump seats.
Now that the landscaping has been completed, the EYFS team have transformed sections of the area into specific outdoor learning zones which entice the children to go and explore and learn creatively. Such areas include; construction site, secret den, mini-beast exploration zone, mark making station excavation and a number factory.
As an EYFS team, we are very grateful to the governors and Friends of Gawsworth for supporting the development of the invaluable learning area. A huge thank you also goes to individual families for their kind donation of garden benches and purpose built seating.
Click on the plan below to see an artistic impression of the whole play area.