St Rose's School, Stroud

St Rose’s provides an exceptional quality of care for students and their whole family in a happy and nurturing environment, where students are stimulated and challenged. 

The school offers education, therapy, including day and residential care for children and students aged 2 to 25, with a wide range of disabilities. Many of their students have physical disabilities, as well as sensory, learning and communication challenges; some also have complex health needs. St Rose’s nursery offers a warm, welcoming, safe and stimulating environment for children aged between two and five years old, with or without additional needs.  


[PP-350d] St Roses School

Project Scope 

St Rose's wanted to create a sensory garden, which would be a safe, but also an exciting oasis outside of the classroom. They wanted the area to be fenced off, so children could enjoy the space independently and it could also be used as a play area by the Nursery. The current space was unusable by most of the students at St Rose's, as the natural grass and tree roots were not wheelchair friendly.[PP-350d] St Roses School 3

Playground Design and Customisation

Georgia, our Playground Consultant, Edward our Managing Director and Dan, our Playground Designer worked together to design a play area that took into account the current space and the schools wishes.

Georgia says "The field had three beautiful large trees in the centre, which were subject to Tree Preservation Orders (TPOs) so we used these as part of our design inspiration. The trees provided a central focal point, so we designed the play space around them and their branches provided natural shade in the area. 


[PP-350d] St Roses School 1

"Our first proposal included lots of natural planting, which was specified by St Rose's, as they wanted to stimulate the 5 senses. The original design would have made a fantastic sensory garden, however during a second meeting with the stakeholders, it was agreed we would include more physical play aspects. We wanted to provide a haven of sensory experiences, but also a space for physical play and challenge, so the children could have fun and let off steam. We all wanted to create a truly inclusive playground for all learners at St Rose's School, that would be a safe, engaging and an inspiring space. The school had an existing Wheelchair Roundabout, Wheelchair Swing and Trampoline that we reused within our design, meaning more budget could be put towards other exciting pieces of equipment, including an impressive 6 metre accessible boardwalk, Outdoor Classroom and Sensory Tunnel.""

[PP-350d] St Roses School 4"St Rose's wanted the students in wheelchairs to feel a sense of height, which is why we included the boardwalk, so they could experience a change in levels. We ensured the boardwalk was wide enough for students in wheelchairs to cross paths, so it would avoid any of the area becoming a one way system. This allows the students to enjoy the sensory panels and musical instruments along the way at their leisure. 

Pathways were an important aspect, as they needed to be accessible and enjoyed by all. We used two different surfaces; Gravel Resin Bond for the pathways and Forest Blend Bonded Rubber Mulch for the stop off points. The difference in surface, along with the decked floor of the boardwalk provides a sensory experience as they feel different under foot and wheel. 

Sensory panels and musical instruments were fixed at a low height, enabling students in wheelchairs to interact with all of the elements. The two wheelchair planters were positioned in an open area to be filled with herbs and other plants which would add a lovely scent to the space and an additional sensory experience!"

DBDplay_St Roses-126-1

DBDplay_St Roses-40-1

DBDplay_St Roses-25

Safety and Compliance 

The boardwalk is 6 meters long to ensure DDA compliance whilst creating an element of height.

Bonded Rubber Mulch was the safety surface of choice, and we suggested our forest colour blend to fit in with the natural surroundings. Resin Bound Gravel was used for the pathway and we added warning lines for the speedbumps which were added to the pathway as a sensory experience and to emulate speed bumps on a road.

We used Heras fencing to create a secure compound whilst work was carried out, during term time, to keep the site secure and the students safe.


DBDplay_St Roses-151


The project took six weeks to complete and involved considerable groundworks to level the space in preparation for the playground and surfacing. The project was led by experienced Team Leader Dan, who has a natural affinity for horticulture, and a keen eye for detail on SEND projects.

The students would regularly visit the site and see the progress that was being made. Headteacher Sheila Talwar said how lovely it had been to see the project moving along so nicely.DBDplay_St Roses-11-1

Alex and Georgia were lucky enough to attend the grand opening of the playground. It was truly wonderful to see the new play area being used by students and their families, as a bonus it was a beautiful summers day. It's always amazing to watch a site come to life, from the initial conversations and drawings, to visiting the site during the installation process with diggers and dumpers! Seeing it finished with people enjoying the space is a hugely rewarding part of our job.DBDplay_St Roses-29

DBDplay_St Roses-137


Headteacher, Sheila Talwar was over the moon with the new garden and said "how wonderful it had been to see the students interacting with each other, as they wouldn't normally have an opportunity to do so. Working with dbdplay and discussing how it was going to look, was a really constructive exercise because they listened to what we wanted. We were keen to keep our old playhouse in the design along with the new features, mixing old with new, it's been really great!"

Can we help design an inclusive playground for you? 

We love working on all sorts of playground projects, big and small. Get in touch to arrange a free appointment where we can see the space, talk through your ideas and present you with a free design.

New call-to-action


Originally published Mar 19, 2024 9:28:08 PM , updated May 28, 2024


SEND Featured