Setting the Scene
Mangotsfield Church of England Primary School caters for children aged 4 to 11 and is based within South Gloucestershire Local Education Authority. Originally sited in Mangotsfield village, the school moved to purpose-built accommodation in Emersons Green in December 1999. Following their extension in 2015, the school capacity is now 630 children, grouped across 21 classes. Mangotsfield’s vision is “Working together to be even better today than we were yesterday.”
Aim: “To transform the EYFS playground, incorporating the key themes of Earth, Wind, Fire and Water throughout”.
The school were looking to improve their EYFS outdoor space and were open to new ideas and designs. They explained they had approximately 90 children to cater for in the EYFS area. The school wanted to remove their old canopy structure and replace it with a new Polycarbonate Roof Canopy. They wanted us to extend and improve the space to accommodate all the children whilst supporting challenging physical play as well as creating spaces for symbolic play and natural exploration.
Mangotsfield's existing pond area was unusable and was overgrown to the point that it was essentially an empty space in the playground. We filled in the area and raised the ground enough to have a small slope and some steps (also usable as amphitheatre seating) which leads to a new Reflection Area.
This area has expanded the usable size of the EYFS playground, providing opportunities for social engagements, music and reading. It also offers a calm sanctuary, inspiring Imaginative Play and individuality. The new steps leading into the Reflection Area were created with Timber Sleepers and Just Like Grass surfacing which offers a large area for seating and works practically with the slope of the ground.
We removed the canopy and opened the fencing, so now the playground opens into the Reflection Area. This has increased the visibility across the whole playground, meaning supervision will be much easier for the teaching staff.
Our solution was to install two Jungle Climbers which offer physical progression for the children, one being a smaller structure and the second a larger climbing frame which has several more challenging aspects, encouraging children to develop their upper body and core strength.
We introduced our new Water Wall in the Water Area. The board is magnetic so the tubes and buckets can be moved around the wall by the children to create their own water paths which encourages problem solving and communication. We included our large Sandpit with Playgrade Sleepers, which are perfect for perching on as the children play in the sandpit. Across the two Sandpits we installed our Single Bucket & Rail which could be used to transfer sand or other materials from one corner to the other again developing the children’s communication skills.
The Large Multicoloured Polycarbonate Canopy replaced the existing school shelter, and we installed the coloured panels to face South-West, so the sun will reflect the colours of the Canopy onto the surrounding area creating a sensory experience.
The Natural Play Area presents opportunities for exploration and communication, enabling the children to develop their sensory skills, and embrace management and responsibility through the Planters, Bug Hotel and Potting Table. We also created a large Mud Kitchen Unit which has increased the space and now enables more children to use the area at one time.
"It's just wonderful. We are beyond thrilled! We spent some time watching the children in the environment yesterday and it’s indeed a long-term vision and dream secured. You can see the impact already."
Faye Kitchen - Executive Headteacher
Originally published Oct 27, 2021 2:33:09 PM , updated May 4, 2022