Bleasdale School, a specialist day school which also offers optional residential provision, caters for pupils aged from 2 to 19 years with Profound and Multiple Learning Difficulties (PMLD), some with associated complex needs, ASD (Autism) and challenging behaviours.
Val Tomlinson (School Business Manager at Bleasdale School) came to Sutcliffe Play wanting to create a new outdoor play area to complement indoor play provision and add additional play benefits.
We worked with the school to design a bright, inviting and inspiring play area which could fulfil the complex needs of the pupils, many of whom are wheelchair users. Ensuring every child has equal opportunities to play side-by-side, it was vital that wheelchair users could genuinely use the play area and the equipment within it, alongside any carers. We ensured that the design was truly inclusive with every piece of equipment being available to all pupils to participate in play.
The design evolved during the consultation process, with the location of the play area moving to a more appropriate space, play items being added or replaced, and the overall layout changing to create the best possible play area for the school and its pupils.
Sutcliffe Play worked closely with the school to sensitively meet the specific needs of the young people who were to use the play area. This included open spaces to enable the free movement of multiple wheelchairs and carers across the space.
At the centre of the new play area, The Play Trail is the epitome of inclusive play, offering accessible play stations all along the trail and at every level. Designed for wheelchair access all way round, this unit has ample room for carers too, including extra height at the top of the slide allowing for easy side transfer from wheelchairs.
Creative wet pour across the scheme creates imaginative and engaging play away from the equipment, including a bicycle track- which can equally be used by wheelchairs- alongside inlayed ‘STOP’ signs and traffic lights.
Additional inclusive equipment in the play area create further play opportunities, including a sensory flower which offers sound and optical sensory play, a nest swing, designed like a bird’s nest specially to take several young people with special needs, and a large dish roundabout.
One of our most popular inclusive products, the angle of the dish and its height make side transfer possible and minimise the lifting required by helpers, while the rocking and rotating motion with good body support and security given by the dish shape, ensures our large dish roundabout is accessible to all.
A sensory path which winds in between the play equipment completes the new play area, further stimulating the senses while encouraging play and social engagement.
“Working with Sutcliffe Play was a really pleasant experience. Simon managed to understand exactly what the school was looking for in relation to inclusive equipment and was happy to provide a number of drafts before we achieved the final design. The contractors were great when they were on site and we all worked together so there was the least disruption for pupils and staff. Everyone is delighted with the outcome and really enjoyed seeing the playground develop over the weeks that it was being built. They could not wait until it was completed and they could start using it. I would thoroughly recommend working with Sutcliffe Play as they were extremely helpful throughout every stage of the project.”
Val Tomlinson – School Business Manager – Bleasdale School