PlayBoard NI’s

Positive PlayGrounds

Supporting primary schools to improve their outdoor play environment.

  • Targeted training programme assisting schools re-examine their approach to the use of playgrounds, and to value them as important spaces for play-based development and learning.

  • Well-established and cost-effective programme, offering practical guidance to produce powerful results.

  • Delivered in over 300 primary schools across Northern Ireland.


  • Increased understanding of the importance of play, play types, the play environment, the impact of play within schools, and the many benefits play affords children.

  • Enhanced and improved outdoor play opportunities within participating schools, offering a wider variety of play-based activities resulting in increased enjoyment, fun, well-being, and skills development for pupils.

  • Establishment of internal processes ensuring children have a voice within the play planning process.

  • A natural starting point for the enhancement of play, leading to progression to the more intensive Taking Outdoor Play Seriously (TOPS) programme.

Transforming Outdoor Play Spaces

For many children and young people, school playtimes may be the only daily physical activity they engage in. With an increasing amount of time being spent on sedentary activities, school playtimes are more important than ever for children’s holistic development and learning. Read more on play in schools

PlayBoard’s Positive PlayGrounds is a staff training based programme which has been supporting primary schools in developing outdoor play for over sixteen years. The programme has helped improve outdoor play experiences for pupils through the creation of strategies to increase access to a range of play types and activities within schools, enhancing opportunities for physical play, socially developmental play, and learning based play.

The training focuses on the transformation of outdoor play spaces, often uninspiring tarmacked areas, into fun-filled playgrounds that offer children a range of play types – creative, physical, messy, imaginary, natural play and much more. By guiding staff on a playwork journey of change, Positive PlayGrounds could be the ideal programme for your school.

Training Programme

Positive PlayGrounds consists of two key elements:

  1. Baseline audit of play to identify the extent to which play is being supported within the school and its grounds, with site specific and overarching recommendations offered.
  2. Staff training to embed an understanding of play and how the school can best support and enhance play opportunities, covering a range of areas including: play benefits; play barriers; quality approaches to play; risk and challenge; and planning approaches to develop play.


  • Delivered to 300+ primary schools.

  • Ten schools supported by the Department of Education in 2021/22 to complete Positive PlayGrounds, with a focus on Covid-19 recovery.

  • Successfully supporting schools to transform their outdoor play spaces for over 16 years.

  • Improved play experiences for over 88,000 children and young people, with families engaged in the development of their playgrounds.

  • Teachers reported improvements in children and young people’s behaviour, planning, focus, self-control, awareness, and flexibility within school due to improved play.

Participant Feedback

“I enjoyed the course and thought it was a great introduction to more risky play ideas for the primary age children. I think that the staff are now more understanding of the value of outdoor play and are now also more understanding of why I spend so much time in the woods. Overall, it was very informative and enjoyable – thank you!”

Silverstream Primary School

“Since the training, the adults are more aware of what they can do to facilitate play. Again, we feel as a staff that the training re-focused our team.”

Harmony Hill Primary School

“The children are much more content. We notice that they are much happier having a lot of choice and variety. Now we have less children being ‘bored’ or ‘unhappy’ outside. Children feel that they have ownership over their playtime. Pupils are proud of their new equipment and we have less broken pieces. Adults are delighted to see the joy in the children’s faces while they play. We have all come to recognise that the power of outdoor play cannot be underestimated!”

St. Nicholas Primary School


Visit our Publications page to view our resources.

Get In Touch

If you would like to improve outdoor play at your school and offer a rich play environment for your pupils, get in touch.

For more information email and one of our experienced staff members will be in contact to discuss your requirements.