The importance of school environments for play cannot be understated. For many children and young people the school playground may be the only open, accessible space available to them on a regular basis that allows them to engage in physically challenging and socially developmental outdoor play.
TOPS (taking outdoor play seriously) is a systematic process for reviewing and improving the quality of children’s play experiences. It aims to support primary schools to continue the process of deepening staff knowledge and expertise with the objective of creating the right practice and environment in which children can play freely and develop.
Limavady Central Primary School participated in the TOPS programme and achieved the Quality Play Award in June 2018. Prior to engaging in the TOPS it was the school policy to contain the children within the two tarmac playgrounds with little or no equipment. By the end of the school year, after staff training and consultations with the pupils the school site has been transformed into a wonderful play space, offering the pupils a wide range of fun and challenging play opportunities.
The children are integrated across Key Stages and have the freedom to move around the complete circumference of the school where there are now a variety of play zones offering different play types. Staff have reported a decrease in the number of incidents occurring during playtimes with something to suit everyone!