North East Connected

Pupils celebrate £16,000 playground improvements

A giant storyteller’s chair and adventure trail are brightening up playtime at a County Durham primary school.

The new equipment, worth more than £16,000, has been installed at Nettlesworth Primary School, in Chester-le-Street, in an effort to improve outdoor play and learning opportunities.

The improvements follow the creation of a Playground Development Workforce made up of pupils, staff, parents and representatives from the Nettlesworth School Community Group (NSCG).

The workforce was tasked with rejuvenating the school’s outdoor areas and managed to secure a £10,000 grant from the Big Lottery Awards for All.

Additional funding was provided by the Sir James Knott Trust, Durham County Councillors Cllr Heather Liddle and Cllr Simon Wilson through their Neighbourhood Budgets, NSCG and the school’s Right Respecting Council and its fair trade shop.

Papi Taieb, Chair of NSCG and leading member of the Playground Development Workforce, said: “Our school is very privileged to have a large outdoor area but due to the sparse play equipment, there were limited opportunities for outdoor play and little variety.

“We wanted to transform the playground in order to improve provision before and after school as well as during break times and the results are fantastic. The children are absolutely thrilled with the new equipment.”

The equipment, installed by Image Playgrounds, includes a gazebo, rock and roll bridge, rope bridge and log traverse as well as climbing rope and press-up bars. The area has been renamed the Physical, Fantastical Field of Fun by pupils.

Lee Roberts, headteacher, said: “The children have been involved from the outset with this project. They planned which pieces of play equipment they wanted, carried out surveys across the school, undertook artwork to produce images of what they hoped it would look like and thought up ideas of how we could involve the wider community in its use.

“They invented the name and took part in cutting the ribbon at the opening ceremony, with our sports leaders and buddies ‘training’ children how to use the equipment safely. All involved with the school would like to thank the NSCG and all of its hard working parents who raise money to help out with projects like this and their Chairperson, Papi Taieb, for their efforts.”

The school is now working on rejuvenating its sensory gardens with the help of members of its after-school gardening club and there are also plans to refresh the pavements and playground with floor and wall decorations.

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