Delph Primary School had an opportunity to bid for grant funding to develop a grassed space to the rear of their early years unit and they approached Groundwork to produce a proposal to improve their school grounds.

Teachers were keen to embrace all of the ideas contained in the Play England guidance on creating successful play spaces. They required non prescriptive play items and features, use of natural materials such as wood, sand  and stone set within an environment which was, to a reasonable extent, challenging. A thirty point checklist of requirements included boulders, stepping stones, posts to drape material across and decking platforms which  would take full advantage of the terrain.

Design objectives:

  • Create an exciting non prescriptive bespoke play environment
  • Incorporate different play experiences including balancing, jumping off things, water play, hiding and getting muddy
  • Fill the space with natural elements
  • Build in opportunities to experience risk and challenge

Design Process:

Our Landscape Architects visited the school on several occasions to refine the design, seeking to satisfy the brief as fully as possible. Proposals exceeded available grant funding but the school managed to add to the fund from their own resources and United Futures contributed a significant sum which was negotiated via Groundwork.

The design takes advantage of a natural amphitheatre and other slopes. It incorporates a performance area, water play facilities including a pump, a timber jetty and areas of gravel and sand.

Most of the project was completed during the summer break but returning children were able to observe with interest and anticipation the latter stages of the construction process.


We are absolutely delighted with our new play space, which has already made a real difference to the outdoor play provision at Delph PreSchool and Delph Primary School. The new facility has extended the children’s
imaginative play. They refer to the sand area as ‘our beach’ and are fascinated with the water pump. They are enjoying the freedom to explore. We would like to thank Groundwork and all the project partners, who have worked with us on this scheme.

Alison Leigh, Head teacher at Delph Primary School