Kingsland Primary School is an outstanding rated Special Educational Needs school in Yorkshire, UK, which caters for children with a range of learning disabilities. They asked HAGS to design and build inclusive play areas for each of their two sites.
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How to plan and prepare for building an inclusive playground
There is a lot of planning and preparation to be done when designing a playground for all. Here we highlight some of the things to keep in mind at this stage and some tips to help you through the process.
- Get the community involved
- Organise a committee
- Keep stakeholders informed of the project status
- Choose a location and analyse it carefully to minimise preparation costs
- Manage your finances by creating regular reports
- Consider long-term funding for maintenance and upkeep of the playground
- Create a mission and vision statement
Who should be involved?
It’s always a great idea to get the community involved by creating a committee, this way you can share responsibilities, share a variety of ideas and get them on board with the project. This is also helpful for you to understand their needs and create a play space that’s best suited for them.
Consider including a range of people with different interests and knowledge, such as disabled people and families with disabled children, playground professionals, staff and parents from local schools, local government officials, and other stakeholders.
Organise your committee and allocate roles to ensure the project runs as smoothly as possible. It’s always helpful to have someone that will take the responsibility for children’s participation, they can develop creative and inclusive methods to get the children involved from the beginning to the end of the project. Also think about including landscape experts and/or play space designers (such as our knowledgeable designers) to ensure a realistic project timeline and increase project quality.
Ensure stakeholders are kept informed of the project status, of any events and meetings taking place via regular communications through social media, websites, newsletters and notice boards. This way they feel included enough to offer their support when needed.
Is the location suitable?
Selecting a site for your play space is very important as the location will affect the design and success of your playground.
Analyse your site carefully at the beginning to minimise preparation costs and maximize safety and use for years to come.
One of the main things to check is the size of the site as this will influence the design and costs of creating the playground.
Here are other things you could think about to help you find the ideal site.
You should study the site to see whether it would need any extensive preparatory work as this can incur additional costs. However, keep in mind that natural features such as slopes, can be used to increase play value and our designers can work these into the play space design.
Some examples include installing embankment slides, or the slope becomes the whole play space such as a net play area we installed on a slope in Denmark. Our designers can find ways to work these elements into the designs.
Consider the risks and benefits of natural elements such as trees and shrubs, they may contribute to shade and beauty but analyse their location and/or underground roots and hanging branches as this can get in the way and cause problems.
If there is an existing playground on the site, our professional team can help you assess the safety of the equipment and cost implications so that you can decide whether to remove it or not.
Consider how much sun the site gets at different times of the year as some equipment may need to be placed away from the sun to reduce the amount of heat it absorbs and consequently prevent them from becoming too hot.
The site should be easily visible and reachable, but it should also be a safe distance from roads or congested areas. Look around to see if there are any amenities available nearby, such as parking, water fountains, toilets, security lighting, etc. as these facilities can be important elements of an inclusive play space and it will help in your planning and budgeting.
Anything else to consider?
A lot of the time, managing and spending your funds wisely can get tricky. Some of the things you can do to help keep your finances in check are to create regular reports on your financial status, keeping your targets and achievements as visible as possible, as well as considering the long-term funding required for maintenance and upkeep of the playground.
Ask playground manufacturers about annual maintenance costs of playgrounds of the size and nature of the play space you want to create and allocate sufficient sums in your financial plan for maintaining your playground.
Having a mission and vision statement will also help with managing finances, as well as help everyone involved maintain focus and avoid drifting.
Contact us using the form below and we will be happy to help you plan your play space.
If you have questions or would like to know something about our products, you can contact us by phone, fax, email or directly on our website. If you do not know who at HAGS you should talk to, or if you would like to come in contact with a specific person at HAGS, you are welcome to call our switchboard to get connected to the right person.