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Inclusive play at Lancashire school

Client: Bleasdale School

Cost: £115,000

Date: Completed 2019

Genre: Inclusive

Play for All at Bleasdale School

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


Playground Equipment:

The Play Trail

This unit has inclusive play stations all along the trail and at every level. On the ground, at the top of the first ramp at 0.6m, at the top of the second ramp at 0.9m and topped with a covered seating area and an inclusive slide at 1.2m. Designed for wheelchair access all way round, this unit has ample room for carers too. The slightly raised top of the inclusive slide allows for easy side transfer from wheelchairs.


Nest Swing

Designed especially to accommodate several young children and those with special needs, this 1.2m inclusive rubber nest swing seat is designed like bird’s nest and enables children of all abilities to swing together, for a more sociable experience.

This rubber nest swing seat has a comfortable, continuous moulded rubber seating surface with our unique impact absorbing safety edge used around the whole seat, for a higher level of safety and no finger traps.


Inclusive Scooter Roundabout

This inclusive scooter roundabout is designed to offer functionality and durability without compromising the fun. Children and carers, whether they have a disability or not can enjoy the experience of spinning. The scooter enables the users to propel the roundabout around with ease.

This roundabout can accommodate a wheelchair. Two users can sit and more can stand if they choose to do so. The wide central space facilitates a range of wheelchairs. Bump stops on both sides give a position to apply the wheelchairs brakes. The ‘roll on roll off’ design enables users to exit in a forward position.

Due to the bearing mechanism used this roundabout is free running for over two minutes. This gives users the chance to enjoy the experience rather than pushing all the time. More speed, more fun!


 Large Dish

One of our most inclusive products, our large dish roundabout can be used for very fast dynamic play. The rocking and rotating motion with good body support and security given by the dish shape, makes our large dish roundabout accessible to all.

The angle of the dish and its height make side transfer possible and minimise the lifting required by helpers. The new larger dish provides more space for more children to play and is suitable for the most demanding location as well as natural play spaces.


Sensory Flower

Offering a sound and optical dimension, this item would happily stand alone, in ‘bunches’, or even compliment many of our other product ranges. Internal ball bearings run around inside the flower and the centre of the flower incorporates a spiral which creates an optical illusion as it rotates.

The flower body has internal ball bearing races to create a sound as it spins. The centre of the flower is a white on black spiral which creates a spinning visual effect when turned by the user.


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