Site Last Updated 20th January 2009

Playground Improvements - Our Primary Focus In 2008 and 2009...

We've been working hard over the last year with staff, parents and pupils to develop plans for improving the playground at the school.

Successful Funding Application To National Lottery!

The latest news is that we are very pleased to report that we have been successful in securing a £10,000 grant from the National Lottery Awards for all scheme!

We have been successful in securing a grant from the National Lottery "Awards For All" scheme!

The playground is currently "wall to wall tarmac" with little to inspire the children or for teachers to work with as part of the currculum. Everyone feels strongly about this issue and we have gained great breadth and depth of support for this project.

Comely Park Primary School Playground - "Wall To Wall Tarmac"...

Pictures of the school playground... "wall to wall tarmac".

A great deal of momentum has been built up over the last year through a series of activities aimed at communications and engaging stakeholders:

Pupils - the Parent Council has held two sessions with the Pupil Council, firstly to listen to their needs and secondly to present ideas for how to make them a reality. All pupils have had an opportunity to contribute their ideas through a very successful Playground Design Competition and at sessions such as the Spring Fayre.

Parents - the playground improvements are being led by the Parent Council but the support for the scheme goes much wider. A Newsletter in the Sping 2008 got a good response from parents. Further communications at the Spring Fayre also received positive feedback and pledges of support. Parents also played a supporting role in the helping their children with entries to the Playground Design Competition .

Staff - with 2 of the staff as co-opted members on the Parent Council, we have ensured that the staff at the school stay informed. On the 1st of December 2008 a workshop with the staff was faciltated by Grounds For Leanring to make sure that the school playground is developed with the curiculum in mind and as a additional resource that can be utilised by staff.

These activities are now described in detail below in chronological order below.


Research - Kinnaird Primary - 22nd March 2008

The Parent Council visit the newly built Kinnaird Primary School to see what was recognised as the new local benchmark for excellent playground facilities.

Colourful rubber tarmac transforms the playground.


Pupil Input - Session With Pupil Council - 3rd April 2008

Melanie Brookes and Mr Watkinson met with the Pupil Council at lunchtime to hear what they would like to be included in any improvements to the playground. The key suggestions were:

Surface - green or soft space(s) to be included in the playground, to break up the wall-to-wall tarmac.

Plants - not so keen on the idea of raised planting beds, as they said they would not really be able to make full use of these at playtime or lunchtine. Mr Watkinson suggested brightening up the playground with some tubs planted with colourful flowers, some paintings and/or murals, which the children were all enthusiastic about.

Courtyard - Introduce a rota for classes to be able to use the courtyard area?

Seating - at the moment the picnic tables are used more as dens/climbing frames, rather than as tables, so they would not like any more of these.

Sports - basketball nets or even a basketball court on the flattest part of the playground.

Play Equipment - monkey bars and some "built-in" trampolines as well as some of the springy "rocking horses" like the ones in Callendar Park. Swings and slides, although the children ackowledged that these are likely to be considered to be too dangerous by the Council. Specific apparatus for each area/year group in the playground.

Surface Markings - games painted on the playground, including hopscotch, snakes & ladders, a chessboard, a big clock and a compass.

Murals - on the outside walls of the school, to make it look more welcoming and friendly (but we would need to get the relevant areas of the roughcasting smoothed over beforehand).

Funding - we could hold a Talent Show to help raise additional funds for the playground improvements.

The meeting was concluded with a commitment to discuss the issues raised with the wider Parent Council and would then report back to the Pupil Council with an update. Mr Watkinson suggested we could show the Pupil Council photos of the new playground at Kinnaird Primary.


Parent Council Feedback - Session With Pupil Council - 8th May 2008

A follow up presentation was given to the Pupil Council which received very positive feedback.

S lides presented to Pupil Council.

Strong support from the pupils with immediate effect - a number of pupils volunteered to man a stall at the forthcoming Spring Fayre.


Spring Fayre - Saturday 10th May

The Pupil Council and Parent Council co-hosted a stall at the Spring Fayre – “Comely Park Playground – probably the most boring playground in the world!”

The Pupil Council volunteers who kindly came along and did a great job. The stall gained lots of interest. Everyone we talked to, both pupils and parents, had positive feedback.

We collected around 30 pupil ideas and over 30 parent pledges of support for the playground improvements. One parent works in a saw mill and offered cut price, perhaps even free timber if we need it. Another recommended the company Tarmac who do a lot of playground upgrades for communities near their sites (there is a Tarmac plant in Falkirk).

One piece of interesting information from Fiona Reid of the PTA - she believes that Kinnaird received funding for their playground from RBS through a scheme called “Super Grounds”.

The support was strong for our proposed next steps:

1. To issue Playground Design Competition sheets to all pupils.

2. To judge the entries from the Playground Design Competition and use ALL ideas to finalise a playground design with the Pupil Council.

3. Once the design is finalised, approach some of the playground equipment suppliers for quotes so that we can get a better idea on costs – some of these companies offer free design services that we could also exploit to help refine our design.

4. Start putting together applications for funding.

Look forward to getting your feedback. Keen to move this forward as far as possible before our final meeting of the school year on the 28th.

The Parent Council and Pupil Council hosted a stall at the Spring Fayre to get input from parents and pupils about their ideas for improvements to the playground.

More photos of the Spring Fayre...


Playground Design Competition - May 2008

A Playground Design Competition entry fom was issued to all pupils at the school. The competition asked entrants to:

Describe the theme for their design.

Design a Mural.

Show shapes and colours for the playground surface.

Draw the types of equipment that they would like in the playground.

Overlay their playground layout onto a plan of the school.


Judging Entries To Playground Design Competition - 23rd June 2008

On Monday 23rd June - 112 fantastic entries were judged by 6 members of the Pupil Council, 2 members of the Parent Council, an architect from Falkirk Council, a member of the "Grounds For Learning" charity and Head Teacher Mr Watkinson.

The Pupil Council with the 3 winning entries.

Click here for photos of the judging process and the winning entries...

It was extremely difficult selecting winners from entries of such high standards and with so many good ideas. In the end, three winners were chosen:

P3 - Erin McDougall - Jungle

P4 - Grace Spence - Bugs and Insects

P6 - Emma Straiton - Comely Park A Welcoming And Safe Place

The ideas from ALL entries will be used to create a playground design. This will be set out in a "Playground Improvement Plan" which is set to be finalised at the start of the new term. Recurring themes across all year groups are:

Lots Of Bright Colours
Sports, Physical Activities, Health
Nature - Garden / Plants / Flowers / Little Forrest / Bird Feeders
Eco Friendly
The Sea
Tropical Island
Welcoming People To The School
Soft Flooring (so they don’t get hurt)
Quiet Areas

Primary 1

Themes include: Care For Our World, Natural Fun, Greenery, Monsters, Fun Fair, Happy Memories and Happy Pictures, Jungle Fun, Sports Activities

More Samples From Primary 1...


Primary 2

Themes include: Fun and Fit, Treasure Island, Dinosaurs, Peace Tree, Island Theme, Nature and Garden, Animal Kingdom, Happy Time, Dragon Theme, Under The Sea, Nature Woodland

More Samples From Primary 2...


Primary 3

Themes include: The School – Motto and Crest, Planets, Jungle, Eco Playground, Sport and Activity, Environmentally Friendly Playground, Fun Colourful, Tidy, Clean and Fun, An Adventure In Space, Bright And Fun, Indiana Jones, Fun Times, Bright And Fun, Sport

More Samples From Primary 3...


Primary 4

Themes include: Football, Simpsons, Tropical Island, Jungle, Woods, Sea Shore, Little Animals, Children’s Play Fair, Tropical Island, Spring Time, Bugs, Welcome To Comely Park, Summer, Autumn

More Samples From Primary 4...


Primary 5

Themes include: Fun When You Learn, Around The World, The Sea, Deep Sea World, Colourful, Healthy and Happy, Comely Park Primary School Rocks!, Eco Friendly, School Colours, The Ocean

More Samples From Primary 5...


Primary 6

Themes include: Welcome To Comely Park, Nature And Friends, Jungle, Cans, Bottles Of Juice and Fruit, Active Equipment, A Place To Let Out Your Feelings

More Samples From Primary 6...


Grounds For Learning - Advisory Report - September 2008

The Parent Council has commissioned the charity Grounds For Learning to provide expert advice and guidance for the project.

For more information about Grounds For Learning (GfL) - please visit their web site

Penny Martin from GfL visited the school on the 23rd June 2008 to meet Mr Watkinson, tour the school grounds and participate in judging the Playground Design Competition. A Grounds Advisory Visit Report has been produced that captures the findings from this visit:

Report produced by Gronds For Learning that provides advice and guidance on how to take the project forward.


Research - Stirling - 12th October 2008

Sensory Playground - Stirling Gallery

This biodiversity playground was constructed using local crafts people for the mosaic pond, drystane walls, willow tunnel, wood carving and truf maze. We found that a lot of the wooden objects had become slippy. Click here for a full set of pictures:

Here you jump on the wooden see-saws to cause a mechanical flute to blow a note.


Trees - Causewayhead

This playground has recently been updated with the addition of more natural features. Click here for a full set of pictures:

Tree planting has transformed this playground, and it will only improve over the years as the trees grow.


Good Ideas - Plean

The playground at East Plan Primary showed some simple yet effective ideas - playground markings, notice boards, trees and shelters. It also illustrated the downside of playground improvements as they can attract vandals. Click here for a full set of pictures:

Playground markings encourage creative play.


Playground Design


The three key stakeholders are pupils, teachers and the local community.

The key objectives of the playground design are:

1. To improve the physical appearance of the grounds to better reflect the friendly school ethos by creating a more welcoming playground.

2. To provide stimulating playground facilties that will help to alleviate boredom and problem behaviour that can occur during break times whilst promoting health and well being.

3. To establish sustainable natural features in a playground which is devoid of any natural features.

We feel that we can transform the urban setting for not just the school but the surrounding community.


Vision Plan

The following "zone plan" has been developed that sets out the proposed layout for the new playground.

Note - this design is still in development and has still to be validated with the Pupil Council, Teachers, Parents and with Falkirk Council planning department.

The zone plan identifies 5 discrete areas within the school grounds and 6 transition zones.


Each zone has the following features:


Quiet Zone

The quiet zone is positioned on the senior side of the school and in the area of the grounds nearest to local residents. This area has been chosen as it provides a secluded triangle shaped corner bordered on two sides by walls. Based on requests from older year groups, it will provide a place for small groups to mee, with the following facilities:

Seating - existing picnic benches will be supplemented with other informal areas to encourage small groups or indeed individuals to place themselves away from the other more active areas of the playground.

Trees - this area will be a focus area for trees to add to the secluded feel by providing overhead cover.

Shelter - shelter is a major issue in the school grounds - this will be one area that can be targeted to create "snug" areas to escape from the elements.

Railings - existing railings that border this area can be supplemented with interwoven willow to create a more nature looking area and provide additional screening from the adjavent main road.


Vision is to plant a string of different tree species along the front of the school.


Challenge Zone

This will provide games to develop strategy, skill and coordination. This area of the school has a gentle slope, so we will aim to make use of that for some of the games, for example being able to roll objects down the slope to hit targets. This will focus on the following facilities:

Surface Markings - painted onto the surface of the playground to support classic games such as hopscotch and some new games (see below for some ideas).

Games Boxes - will be required for some of the surface based games above - for example bean bags, draughts pieces, giant chess, cones, hooplas.


Imagination Zone

Will area will allow children to use their imagination and will encourage interactive play.

Patterned Soft Surface - rubber tarmac with patterns to stimulate imaginative play, for example desert islands on a sea of blue.

Coloured Poles - simple props that, when combined with patterned soft surfaces, will provide further opportunities for imaginative play.

Vision is to combine simple pole concept with rubber tarmac to encourage imaginative play.

Coloured shapes on rubber tarmac will stimulate the children to create their own games.


Sensory Zone

Allows children to express themselves through the use of sensory equipment. The equipment will encourage children to work as a group to make different rhythms. Whilst commercial equipment is available, recycled and natural materials will also be used.

Sensory elements can also introduce natural materials.


Sporty Zone

Will provide an area for physical activity.

Traversing Wall - transform the dull brick wall at the west boundary of the school into a traversing wall.

Basketball - a common request from the children. A removeable basketball ring would be installed to enable the facility to be decommissioned at night.


Traversing walls can make walls more attractive as well as providing physical challenges.


Transition Zones

There are 6 transition areas:

Main Entrance, Nursery Entrance, Primary 1 Entrance, Primary 2/3 Entrance, Primary 4/5 Entrance, Primary 6/7 Entrance.

These zones will enable pupils to move from classroom to playground and then from playground to classroom. These areas will not have any specific apparatus but will be equipped where possible to make these transitions easier:

Creating Ownership - pupils will be given an opportunity to personalise the area around their respective entrance to the school. Ideas include:

Murals - for example younger children could do simple murals using hand or foot prints, whilst older shildren could do more sophisticated designs such mosiacs;

Pebbles In Concrete - each child could do an individual design (to a theme) on a pebble which would then be set in concrete at the entrance for each year group.

Route Map and Line Up Markings - surface markings with different coloured paths for each year group, ending at "line up" areas at doors into school. For example, asking the pupils to create a "London Tube" style map to guide pupils from each gate to their classroom and then use footprints and other techniques to set out the route.

The children can construct their own pebble mosaics at each year group entrance to the school.

Detailed Plan

Detailed plan is in development and can be viewed here.

A detailed playground design is being developed.




Project Milestones


Spring Fayre May 2008 - support from parents and pupils for plans.

Pupil Council Sessions - two sessions on the 3rd April and 8th May 2008.

Spring Fayre - to communicate and validate proposed approach.

Playground Design Competition - over 100 entries, 3 winners selected by Pupil Council.

Grounds For Learning - site visit and report.

A playground design is being finalised using pupils ideas submitted during design competition.

A "Zone Plan" has been produced.

A first draft of a Detailed Plan has been created for further discussion.

Application to "Awards For All" submitted.

"Awards For All" grant for £10,000 issued to Parent Council for Playground Improvements.

Planned Activites

Work will start on the first phase of the playground improvements in October.

The first phase will implement: playground markings, basketball and weaving pencils.

Additional funding is required for the second phase - the Parent Council and PTA are working together to secure this funding.

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