Once in Key Stage 2, it’s likely that most children will have tested their physical skills and explored much of the outside space at school during the first few years in the school, so it’s really important that the playground offers something that will continue to challenge older pupils.
Let’s get physical
As with other areas of the curriculum, it’s important that pupils have the ability to stretch and test their physical skills. During KS2, children should be building on their fundamental movement skills by communicating and collaborating with their peers, combining different movements and playing competitive games as well as being more adventurous.
In addition, sport becomes more and more important in both curriculum and free play time. A Multi-Use Games area is a great way to give children space to play together in a safe space away from more informal activities – even better if you choose one that incorporates a number of different games, sports and physical skills that can be adapted for different age groups.
Another great way to provide additional challenge to existing equipment is to provide the ability to measure, evaluate and improve on performance – why not include a stop clock and scoreboard alongside the most challenging pieces of play equipment to enable children to time and record their personal best?
Connecting to nature
In our previous article, we referred to the fact that children are using screens more, that local play facilities have been in decline, and that school outdoor spaces are critical to offset this trend.
This is just as true for the oldest primary pupils as the youngest and isn’t just about physical activity – the current generation of primary children are more aware than ever of the natural world around them and the challenges faced by factors such as climate change. It is therefore important that they continue to feel they have the opportunity to connect with nature, and an appreciation for why the natural world is so important.
Why not give your KS2 pupils the opportunity to oversee and help to care for a natural space within your school grounds, giving them ownership of the environment, and allowing them to contribute to developing the space, perhaps bringing in renewable energy sources or simply planting trees and growing food?
Getting ready for secondary school
The last few years of Primary School can be a bit of a whirlwind – there are more opportunities to try different sports and extracurricular activities, compete with other schools in sport, not to mention the extra academic focus which comes with SATS and getting ready to move up to secondary school.
Even the most mature children in the school will need spaces to relax, recharge or blow off a bit of steam, as well as to prepare for secondary school. If space allows, you could consider having a separate social space for Year 6 children for example, or provide opportunity for increased responsibility, such as being in charge of a rota for tending to a vegetable garden to help prepare them for the years ahead.
The Association of Play Industries (API) is the lead trade body in the play sector. It represents the interests of manufacturers, installers, designers and distributors of both outdoor and indoor play equipment and safer surfacing. The API promotes best practice and high-quality play provision within the play industry.