In the UK there are over 30,000 schools which are a mixture of early learning centres, primary schools, secondary schools, nurseries, special schools (maintained and non-maintained), pupil referral units, independent schools and middle schools.
That’s a lot of education being provided to the nation’s young people. There are also a lot of playgrounds enhancing learning, fun and exercise.
Savvy educators know how important the playground space is for their pupils, particularly with enhancements like outdoor playground equipment and markings. Of course, that doesn’t mean it is always easy to choose equipment to go into the playground. There are a few things to consider including:
- Physical space
- Playground capacity
It’s a lengthy process that takes time, particularly when it comes to the design and implementation of that design.
Today, we want to help you with an important aspect of your playground equipment plan, with a valuable insight into the kind of equipment you could select for your pupils to enjoy.
There is no ‘should’ when it comes to what you do choose, but all of the options below are incredibly popular, and easily combined to create an educational, creative and beneficial outdoor space for pupils to enjoy.
Here is a complete list of recommended school playground equipment for a phenomenal outdoor space:
Early years play equipment generally applies to children who are up to the age of 5.
The kind of equipment that would be great for early years playgrounds differs from that of slightly older children because of the stage of development the children are at.
With early years equipment you will see products that are generally lower to the ground, with smaller features meant for the hands or feet (like climbing steps), and lots of designs inspiring imagination or creative based play.
Here are some of the best equipment pieces for a nursery playground:
- Ball/ sand pits
- Play rope
- Balancing planks/ logs
- Adventure tower
- Mud kitchens
- Play bridges
- Building blocks
- Art-based equipment like easel benches or chalk boards
- Climbing frames
- Imagination shelters
- Mud pits
There are also lots of equipment types that are necessary for a playground that relate to more practical needs.
Good examples of this are items like picnic benches and table game boards, which can aid children sitting down and concentrating on their lunch, or on social time with others.
Some practical items, like benches, may also be combined with nature, as with a tree bench. This is to merge equipment with the natural features of the outdoor space, and to encourage children to be nearer to natural features.
Some playground equipment is to specifically boost the interaction between the children and nature, as with a natural planter.
Children can benefit massively from gardening, so nursery playground additions like planters can be a real asset.
Lots of nursery school playground equipment is also a valuable addition to a primary school playground. Planters, art-based equipment and buddy benches all have a place in a primary school playground.
In fact, primary school playground equipment and nursery school playground equipment may well be together in one space and much of it can be used by all age groups.
For older primary school children there may be a need for larger structures like play towers, swings and slides that can accommodate that age group.
Lessons can also be enhanced with larger seating structures like storytelling benches or something more creative, like mushroom stools.
For older children, moving more towards secondary school age, teen seating is a good idea for the playground. This is especially true in a school with a wide age range attending and mixing during playtime.
It is important that the playground is equipped with the correct flooring to ensure that equipment can be installed with ease.
Some equipment needs to be set in concrete to be safe, other items can be placed and chained, or simply placed and held with their own weight alone.
A professional playground equipment company will be able to advise you on what preparation needs to be done before the equipment you want can be installed.
Another important flooring design consideration for playgrounds should be markings. Vibrant designs like hopscotch and snakes and ladders encourage children to have even more fun in their outdoor space.
You may also want to add markings for PE, such as 5-a-side graphics, agility trails, basketball graphics and bleep test graphics.
Although these graphics can be placed using paint, it’s generally more popular these days to use something called thermoplastic, which has the following benefits:
- Can remain vibrant for 5-10 years (paint can fade after as short a time as one bad winter)
- Incredibly durable
- Eco-friendly (no paint chemicals leach into the ground)
- Can be ready to use in as little as 30 minutes after application
- Many beautiful, vibrant designs
- Creates a stunning aesthetic
- Options for all school ages
- You can often choose your own colour schemes for the design
- Usually comes with a lengthy guarantee
Regardless of the kind of playground you have, it is highly recommended that you get professional advice on the overall playground design to ensure that you’re making the most of the space.
Professional playground marking and equipment companies will be able to discuss your needs, budget and timescales to make sure you get the most out of your outdoor space.
With the right playground equipment and design, all your pupils and many more future pupils of the school can gain substantial benefits from spending time in your outdoor space.