All-inclusive playground in Cirencester provides valuable space for children with disabilities
Something truly wonderful happened during lockdown for the pupils at Paternoster School in Cirencester: work to a fantastic new inclusive playground was completed in time for the new school year.
The project was driven by the Friends of Paternoster School, a dynamic group of parents who worked tirelessly to raise the funding from local businesses, Cotswold District Council, and national and local charitable organisations.
At the beginning of June, pupils were delighted to access this exciting outdoor learning environment. It has provided them with endless opportunities for unique experiences, enabling them to become the very best they can.
The inclusive playground brings huge benefits and changes to the lives of pupils at Paternoster School as well as children with disabilities in the local community and across the SAND Academies Trust.
The playground is a carefully thought out and imaginative design that enables every single pupil to play creatively. Pupils from Paternoster School were involved in the design of the playground from the start and many of their ideas have been incorporated into the final project. The playground uses natural materials and colours to create a stimulating outdoor environment which has a positive effect on children’s development and communication.
The playground is so much more than just an area for children to play in. It is a purposeful centre for pupils to socialise in and develop relationships with peers and adults, a place to grow and develop themselves personally. There is something for everyone in the new playground design, including wheelchair users, who will now have access to the most fantastic wheelchair swing, amongst other pieces of specialist equipment.
Here’s what three of Paternoster School’s teachers had to say about the new playground…
“I cannot over-emphasise the importance of the playground to my class. The interaction between the children has improved beyond anything I expected as they have fun exploring the new equipment together – running up and down the mound, playing together on the roundabout and negotiating who’s turn it is next on the swings (no arguments so far!). Also, to have wheelchair accessible play equipment is amazing and the pupil who uses a wheelchair in our class feels fully included. It is an absolute joy to see the children at playtime now”.
“The playground has been hugely beneficial for all pupils in our class. It is currently one of their favourite spaces in the school and is a great source of motivation. The varied equipment also provides excellent opportunities for positive social interactions as well as spaces to feel calm (particularly on the swing and hammock). Since using the new playground, we have had reduced behavioural incidents and play times. We have several new pupils in our class, and the playground has been a great help in supporting the children to get to know each other and enjoy play together.”
“The playground has offered our pupils a safe and purposeful environment for exploratory play and develop their coordinator and motor skills. They are using pieces of equipment together – which supports their knowledge and understanding of social regulations and most importantly it is fun, engaging and motivating.”
Leader of Cotswold District Council and local Councillor, Joe Harris, says: “I’m absolutely thrilled to see the efforts of Friends of Paternoster School come to fruition with this incredible new facility at Paternoster School in Cirencester. The hard work from local parents and the school to fundraise for this project has been inspiring and I’m overjoyed that the District Council could help by providing a grant toward the project from our Community Projects Fund.”