Gayhurst Clipper Play Ship

Gayhurst Community School

Gayhurst Community School is a large Victorian, inner city Primary School in Hackney, London. As a result of this outstanding project, other local Primary Schools have also completed playground developments with Schoolscapes.

The school had not invested in their playground for some time and the current equipment was no longer fit for purpose. Some areas had become unmanageable, such as the nature and pond area. The space available for outdoor play was limited and as a result, the school and pupils were not able to use the playground to its full potential.

There were six areas which required rejuvenating spanning Early Years, Key Stage One and Key Stage Two pupils. Five of the Six areas had a tarmac foundation and this resulted in a dull and uninspiring space. It was important to incorporate planting solutions throughout as the children wanted to be able to plant and grow their own vegetables within the urban environment.

Our design team used creative ways to soften the urban setting such as soft surfacing, natural timbers, and planting. Each space was designed to be physically diverse; with equipment at different levels, a variety of surfaces and colours and incorporating vegetation. To soften the rectangular, harsh edges and to allow each space to flow into the next, curved pathways were introduced within the surfacing. Doing so encourages children to explore their space whilst feeling confident to move into the next area.

Physical and Imaginative Play elements were designed to make the best use of the space and to offer varied challenges to all ages. To provide a space for Outdoor Education and reverie a Garden Area was created at the far end of one of the central playgrounds, to make the space feel more enclosed and secure Garden Arches and Planters were used to form natural boundaries and entries. As the Reception and EYFS Playgrounds were to remain independent it was important to include all elements of learning and play within these spaces.

The Development

The existing MUGA was resurfaced and redesigned to offer not only a safe environment for PE lessons but also floodlights so the area could be used during the winter months for the various after school clubs. A cycle track was also included in the new MUGA area as the school carry out cycle proficiency lessons.

Gayhurst Community School: “Better Than the Local Park”

Schoolscapes worked closely with us at all stages of the project plans. They listened to what we wanted and were able to suggest new and innovative ways of developing the space into the delightful and stimulating playspace we needed.

Children, staff, parents and governors were all able to contribute and share their ideas and gain a feeling of ownership of the completed project.

The impact on the whole community has been better than we could have expected.

Playtimes are now much calmer and the children engage in imaginative play using the different play structures, musical instruments, science resources and generally enjoying the more comfortable and aesthetically pleasing surfaces.

The children and kitchen staff are enjoying growing vegetables, herbs and edible flowers to enhance our school meals.

At the end of the school day it’s hard to get the parents to take the children home as the school grounds are better than the local park.

Louise Nichols – Executive Headteacher Gayhurst Community School

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