Enhancing your playground? That’s child play!

Ask any pupil and they will tell you that the playground is one of the most important areas in a school – certainly the most popular. It’s where children can come to let off steam between lessons, establish lifelong friendships and ensure they keep fit and healthy by having somewhere to run and jump about. Yet, the playground is also the place that gets a very high level of use, which inevitably results in the need for repairs and a robust maintenance routine.

Here are four ways to keep your playground looking and performing at its best this term.

Close inspection

Schools often focus on what goes in inside their classrooms when they hear the dreaded word ‘inspection’, however, don’t forget to include your outdoor spaces in any assessments you may be planning to make. Playgrounds and sports pitches get a lot of use, and can be prone to damage from pounding feet, studded sports boots, footballs and so forth. Not to mention the effects of adverse weather, such as frost and snow. Check regularly for cracks, rips, water ingress and other signs of damage. The earlier you address these, the easier – and cheaper – they will be to put back to good repair.

Make sure you are happy with the various surfaces you have chosen as you examine your playground. Can you look at a different surface that is more durable, more flexible or safer for the children to use? Rubber can offer enhanced impact absorption to cushion any falls from climbing equipment, while mulch can look attractive around play equipment and on paths while helping to reduce waterlogging around the site. If you favour tarmac, there are several anti-slip paints available on the market to create a more vibrant look while making the area safer to use.

Safety first

Make sure that all safety audits are completed to a high quality, including all play equipment, surfaces and boundaries. Sturdy fences are essential to keep the area secure, so repair any damage as soon as you discover it. If you have a storage area, such as a bike shed or scooter rack, look for damage to these facilities as well. Don’t forget to look up as well as down during your safety assessment to check that there is adequate lighting for evening use and that it is functioning correctly. Do you need to remove any overhanging tree branches? These can often cause a heightened risk in windy weather conditions.

Finally, make sure that your playground areas cater for everybody who is going to use them. Little children require different facilities than their older counterparts. Are the line markings clear and easy to follow? Is the playground located in a safe space, where pupils can be monitored and first aid help easily accessed if necessary? Have you identified and repaired any damaged spots that could cause an accident, e.g. by tripping over?

Mark it up

Whether you are looking after external play areas or indoor sports pitches and courts, making sure that it is marked up correctly for its purpose is crucial. This enhances the enjoyment of those who use it for sports, as well as enhances the safety of pupils walking across it by showing them where pitch boundaries are. Planning is all-important here; bringing in professional line markers will help make the process smoother and easier from the start.

Some playground surfaces will need special preparation ahead of any lines being planned and applied. You may also wish to add a more complex system of markings to allow children to use the space in lots of different ways, such as football, netball and tennis, with perhaps some allocated space for games like hopscotch, times tables grids or noughts and crosses. Younger children might also enjoy learning their letters and numbers using playground markings, or following an exciting adventure trail laid out for them in brightly coloured paint at their feet. A line marking specialist will be able to help you exploit your space to its fullest potential and choose paints and polymers that will produce highly visible, durable markings that will last for years.

All in the detail

A child’s imagination is a thing of beauty, so encourage it to thrive by providing a playground that inspires creative play. Ideas include themed role play areas, such as shops, doctors or a cosy home corner. Bring the fun of board games outdoors by installing line markings for giant snakes and ladders, chess or Twister. Enhance your school’s branding by having a customised design incorporating your logo, motto or school colours added to the playground.

Other nice touches include benches – many schools extol the benefits of a friendship bench where children can sit if they are seeking someone new to play with. Adding inspirational, or amusing quotes can help lift the mood, or try painting a striking mural on a plain and unused wall. Could you plant a sensory garden, or engage the children in planting their own flowers, fruit and veg close to the main playground? It’s added extras like these that make a child’s time at school both enjoyable and memorable, and, with a bit of imagination and expert advice need not cost too much in terms of budget and effort.


About Fastline Services:

Fastline Services, a UK-based specialist in line marking and safety solutions for schools, leisure centres, warehouses and other commercial organisations. The company offers a wide range of products and services designed to provide durable, attractive floor markings. Fastline Services operates out of headquarters in Doncaster, but works across all areas of the UK. In addition to line marking consultancy and delivery, Fastline Services can also work alongside schools and their pupils to plan and design their new playground. The website is available at https://www.fastlineservices.co.uk.

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