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Creating a positive playground experience

Creating a positive playground experience
Four school girls skipping on the school field at Pocklington Prep School

At Pocklington Prep School, we strive to nurture not just our pupils’ academic development, but also their social, physical and emotional growth. A vital part of this holistic approach is creating a positive and active environment within the school playground; an area where our pupils spend a significant amount of their school day. Read this article from Pocklington Prep School’s Pastoral Lead, Suzie Rogers, to discover how we achieve this through thoughtful and strategic measures in our playground settings.

At Pocklington Prep School, we understand the importance of giving children the room to experiment and learn through play with children of different age groups, using a variety of resources. In doing so, we create an environment that not only allows for interactive learning but also fosters the development of interpersonal skills.

Our play zones are specifically designed to encourage collaborative and creative play, whilst fostering our School Values of Courage; to be resilient and try something new, Truth; to play fairly and Trust; to work together collaboratively. One of our most popular zones is the 'loose parts' area. Everyday items such as tyres, wooden planks, crates and pipes give the children the opportunity to make their own decisions about what type of play they would like to partake in, from constructing dens together to creating obstacle courses. Creativity in this area is also in abundance, where children create ‘cars’ to get to their much-loved mud kitchen, where it is a pleasure to watch the children role-play in the restaurant kitchen known as 'PockDonalds’.

School boy pulling another boy along on a wheelie board in playground at Pocklington Prep School

As we walk to another part of the playground, a ‘moving parts’ zone allows pupils to enjoy participating in physical activities and imaginary games using scooters and wheelie boards. Dressing-up is an essential part of this area where everyday situations are transformed into other exciting role-plays. Recently, a charming 'Father Christmas' delivered 'presents' on a scooter, accompanied by two 'reindeer' as part of a game between our Year 6 and Pre-Prep children. This is an excellent example of the collaborative play between the different age groups in the School, with the support of our pastoral ‘buddy’ system, ensuring that every child has somebody to play with in the playground.

A 'music and drama' zone is currently under construction, which promises to add even more variety to the pupils’ playtime. Here, children will be encouraged to indulge in their dramatic side on stage, by using a variety of dressing-up costumes and music boards to craft their own performances. Live music will add an extra element of realism, along with a sandpit for those children who love a day at the beach!

We also recognise the importance of downtime in the playground, as it provides children with opportunities to unwind, rest and reflect on their experiences. For those children who prefer a quieter atmosphere, we offer calming seating areas, where children can play with small world toys, their favourite dolls, build Lego or play card games, whilst exchanging thoughts and ideas, during conversations with friends.

Our exceptional Year 6 playground leaders help to provide a safe and supportive space. They not only help the children create and understand new games, but also contribute with their innovative ideas to further enrich the playground environment.

We take pride in our playground at Pocklington Prep School. It fosters imagination, learning, creativity, and friendship, whilst enhancing social skills and emotional understanding. It offers an incredible experience in a nurturing and caring environment where our pupils are free to explore their unique potential. 

For anyone wishing to see Pocklington School or Pocklington Prep School in action, you can join us for our next Open Day on Thursday 7 March 2024. Our open event offers the perfect opportunity to see the whole school on a normal working day with student-guided tours around our campus and a visit to our well-appointed boarding houses. We are also opening our Prep School evening clubs and workshops from Monday 4 March to Thursday 7 March. If you would like to attend the open event or book your child into a Prep School taster club session, please click here to register and book.