Health and well-being of our young people
True play is when children create their own rules and boundaries. It is at its most pure when it is freely chosen, intrinsically motivated, self-determined and children are simply given the opportunity to find out for themselves. The designs exemplify the best practice in play strategy curriculum and were fully backed by City of Edinburgh Council as an exciting initiative with clear benefits not only to learning, but also the physical & emotional health and well-being of our young people.
HarrisonStevens was approached by the Cramond Primary School Parent Staff Association to help them solve a problem. Although it has fairly generous space provision, the school suffered from a large section of it being inaccessible due to a steep grassed embankment, that when wet was impassable. The result was to render 60% of the outdoor space unusable for large parts of the year. While the original brief was to ‘deal with the mud’, it rapidly became apparent there was a much greater ambition for the school’s play provision.
Self-determined play opportunities
Supported by a committed and impassioned School Leadership team, and an active and motivated Parent Council, HarrisonStevens pushed the boundaries and for many the perception of what a Primary School play provision could be. There is a series of spaces created that allowed the design to flow from one zone to another. These spaces not only offer a wide variety of creative and self-determined play opportunities but that support the School’s delivery of the curriculum for excellence in addition.
Exemplify best practice
The design was achieved while not impacting on the existing usable spaces, with ‘Our PLACE’ being fully contained within the existing embankment. It encourages mixed age, mixed gender, interest led playing and learning. It is physically challenging - offering a vast landscape of natural materials to climb, step, hide, slide, run, crawl, jump and explore. The school has fully embraced the potential and has augmented the landscape with loose materials such as tyres, kitchen pots and pans, spades, plastic tubs and brushes to use in the environment. Children are learning to take risks safely and encouraged to regulate their own behaviour.