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Mountwood Academy SEN Play Area

Client: Mountwood Academy

Cost: £45,000

Date: March 2020

Genre: Community, Inclusive

Catering for special needs with a wide age range

Mountwood Academy caters for young people with varying degrees of Autistic Spectrum Disorder (ASD), aged between 8-25 years. As the academy specialises in ASD, many of the young people who attend require an outlet for physical activity that also presents a challenge.

The brief outlined requirements for the provision of different pieces of play equipment which were challenging, and required high levels of energy and stamina, but which would also be suitable for young people of adult stature.

An existing tarmac playground with no play provision was transformed into an immersive environment designed to stimulate the senses and engage the young people at the academy in energetic play.

Sutcliffe Play worked closely with the academy to tailor the equipment to sensitively meet the specific needs of the young people who were to use the play area. This included the use of different materials (timber and metal) and fulfilling the requirement for adult height monkey bars, which was deemed essential; as was the need for a slide and climbing generally.

At the centre of the new play area, the Mission Venture unit provides a full body work out. Testing strength and agility in order to reach the 1.8m central platform, users must swing from hanging rings, negotiate the twisted spider net, traverse across the wall, or climb the pull up ramp. Complementing Mission Venture, the Orchard Teepee from Sutcliffe Play’s environmentally friendly wooden range offers additional challenges with three ways to race to the top, and a horizontal net providing a level to sit on or climb over to reach the other side.

Interactive ‘Noughts & Crosses’ and ‘Dice Spin’ play panels are accompanied by a water table and coloured thermoplastic floor graphics inlayed with games, to further stimulate the senses while encouraging play and social engagement.

Inclusive play equipment completes the new play area, including a sensory flower; which offers sound and optical sensory play, and a nest swing. Designed specially to take several young people with special needs, the nest swing is designed like a bird’s nest and constructed of steel rope matting to offer additional support for users.

Playground Equipment:

Mission Venture

If you want a real workout then Venture has it all. So much to do and all a test of strength and agility, except of course the central 1.8m high platform which is your chance to take a rest and survey what you have achieved. That might have been making it across the hanging rings, negotiating the twisted spider net, traversing across the wall, or even climbing up the pull up ramp. Then don’t forget the stepping poles, can you get all the way round without putting a foot on the ground!

Nest Swing

Designed especially to take several young children and those with special needs, this swing is designed like bird’s nest. The seat is made of steel rope matting, with a padded rope ring around the edge.

2.4m Standard Swing Combination


Orchard Teepee with slide

Teepee, can be a challenging wooden play unit where you can use one of  three climbing sides to race to the top and slide back down to the ground, or it can be a simple den to  ‘hide out’ in underneath.  With a second net in the middle there is another ‘den’ level to sit on or use it to cross over to the other side.

Tepee Slide

Small Seesaw

A tried and tested seesaw for younger children which also enables adults to sit or stand with a child to help balance them on the activity.


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.


Water play Shower
We have developed our range of water and sand tables to enable children to create pools and flows of water. It offers a sustainable, elemental play solution with two sand tray options offering a large accessible surface to play with, a sieve and a sand pipe to give further creative play opportunities.

Water can be delivered using a simple, cost effective Hoselock system, perfect for use in schools and other supervised environments. In a public play area our standard mains water ‘Spout’ can be fitted.


Water play Splash
Our range of circular water tables and adjoining sand trays have been designed to be compact and enable users to start with simple water table, adding other elements as their budget or available space allows.

Two sand tray options offer a large accessible surface to play with sand, with a sand sieve and sand pipe encourage further creative play. Each water table has its own plunger plug to retain / release water.


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