TITLE OF DEVELOPING PRACTICE EXAMPLE
Inspiring environment and loose parts play
Inspiring environment and loose parts play
Banchory Primary School is a state primary school in the Clackmannanshire local authority. It has a roll of 120 pupils and is growing annually. It was built in 1959 with the recent addition of two P1 classrooms. The school has a tarmac playground adjoined by an enviable expanse of green and a dramatic Ochil hills backdrop. However, the large grassed area is currently undifferentiated and frequently inaccessible due to concerns over clothing, footwear and poor drainage. Many playtimes see the children corralled onto the overcrowded tarmac playground with support staff Figure 1: Banchory Primary spending much of their time guarding the School main entrance grass and policing the high level of incidents that arise from so many children being held in one small space.
Banchory Primary School and ELC have been on an incredible journey to enhance play and outdoor learning experiences for our children.
Continued consultation and stakeholder involvement with children, families, staff, the wider community and partners have contributed significantly to the success of this priority with all voices being heard and listened to.
The school grounds have been transformed and we continue to commit to enhancing its use through planned CLPL and working with partners. This collaborative approach is now having a significant impact on engagement and readiness for learning.
We are now just beginning with play sessions in one part of your outdoor space for a small mixed-age group once per week until adults and children acclimatize and routines around tidying up and managing the resources are establishing themselves. We will continue to introduce one type of resource at a time.
New resources may be highlighted at start of the session and issues around their use discussed as necessary.
Staff have been up-skilled through Twilight sessions with the Landscapes for Learning team to ensure we all model good practice and help to embed the systems and new approaches with all staff and learners.
What next at banchory?
Staff and children will be working together to continue introduce and explore a number of loose parts.
Staff will continue to receive additional training to further support the children’s play.
Issues including how to use the resources safely have been investigated and we will continue to revisit this accordingly.
Children will always be involved in discussing health and safety issues. Currently our Ground Maintenance Crew support SLT with this.
All items will be checked initially and on a regular basis for safety.
The benefits of loose parts play
The development of nature play opportunities and naturalised play spaces provides evidence about the benefits of playing with naturally occurring loose parts. This includes:
Immediate/ ‘Quick wins’
• Mark out a pitch on the grass making use of the remaining goal frame. Establish a daily routine to manage access to the pitch and ensure that children bring in appropriate footwear and a change of trousers on their ‘pitch’ day.
• Decide on a school-wide solution to appropriate footwear and clothing and associated storage for outdoor learning and play.
• Establish a wilder orchard area by planting a native species rich hedgerow around it, allowing the grass to grow long there and installing some artificial invertebrate homes.
• Begin the addition of loose materials gradually just with some
tarpaulins, loose tree stumps and waterproof backed picnic blankets to enable children to start making their own shelters and informal seating.
• Relocate the existing sand to a large tarpaulin at the edge of the tarmac thus generating a more accessible pop-up sandpit.
Mid Term Goals
Gradually build staff confidence with outdoor learning training and opportunities to discuss ideas at collegiate meetings. Prepare a bank of outdoor learning lesson plans which are linked to school curriculum plans through the year. Prepare subject-themed outdoor learning boxes which any teacher can lift and take out as and when required.
• Teachers’ outdoor learning experiences will help with ascertaining the best location for a new sheltered outdoor gathering area whose installation will support learning, play, relaxation etc.
• Identify a class to take the lead with the introduction of loose materials. They will be responsible for sourcing a class kit, roadtesting, risk-benefit assessing, ensuring that there is a clear sanction system, organising storage and training the other classes for initial usage during class time: ‘Let loose sessions.’
• Arrange a community grounds force day in liaison with the ranger service to help clear the Lorne hill woods at the back of the school so that they can be more readily used for learning and play.
• Install a stage area adjacent to the old climbing wall. The nearby access to power will enable music to be brought outside for breaks and lunchtimes.
Long term projects / ‘Aspirational’
• Install a MUGA. If the facility is for community usage this may help with the leverage of funding to obtain such as asset.
• Excavate a new landscaped large sand area on the nearside of the mound incorporating fixed posts with hooks, boulders and benefiting from the mound by the installation of a tunnel or a platform to enable interplay between the two features.
• Install a naturalistic climbing area with features such as a fallen tree, climbing trunks, balancing posts etc with a ground covering to enable access through the seasons.
• Any new landscape feature needs to be accessible from the tarmac so whether one or all are achieved then suitable all weather routes to them will need considering in conjunction with a trail around the grounds’ perimeter linking a future potential second pedestrian entrance to the school.
What do people at Banchory Primary & Nursery say about playing and exploring the outdoors with our learners?
In November 2019 all staff evaluated the importance of play at Banchory and what it mea…
Playing is part of a happy childhood. It is an important way for children to learn and develop.When they play, children have a chance to learn how to judge risks for themselves. Free time is important to young people because they need time to switch off, relax and to socialise. They told us it’s important to them because it’s their own time to do what they want with, not to be told what to do by adults.
There are fantastic and valued spaces to play in Banchory Primary & Nursery but the range may not meet everyone’s needs and it can be hard to get to them. We need to increase and improve access to outdoor spaces including natural and wild spaces.
Ensuring children and young people with additional support needs have access to high quality, accessible and inclusive play and free time opportunities is a high priority across all the consultation activities.
Banchory Primary School, Alloa Road, Tullibody, Alloa, UK