Reaching out to help build outdoor learning spaces

Reach Primary Learning Centre in Beeston have enhanced their outdoor play and learning space thanks to support from finance firm St James’s Place (SJP).

Reach work with children who have social, emotional and mental health (SEMH) needs and are at risk of exclusion from mainstream primary schools. The design ideas came from the children themselves.

Amongst other things they asked for somewhere they could do their learning outside even when it is raining as at times it is too tricky for them to be in their classroom; they wanted a chicken run for the chicks they will be hatching next spring; and they wanted to improve the ‘boring’ scooter and bike track and add somewhere they could fix bikes. Staff wanted hanging bars and a traverse wall for the pupils as research shows these types of equipment help SEMH pupils to regulate and ground themselves when times are slightly more difficult for them.

The project was supported by Hands On who act as a broker for schools and community groups who need outdoor facilities and companies looking for projects to support with funding and manpower. Hands On also project manage the process, working out the detailed designs and preparing materials so that staff teams can work safely.

Toby Rix from Hands On and his team worked all this into a manageable project and delivered it with the help of SJP.

Toby commented:

“It’s gone really well, we’ve had a busy week with three days of volunteers from SJP ranging from the executive team to support staff. They’ve all worked really hard.”

Head of Centre, Ali Elvidge, said:

“Pupils, parents, carers and staff are all thrilled with the final results of the project. Toby Rix from Hands On has included and engaged all pupils, supporting them in formulating their vision into creative designs. To see them brought to life by the Hands On team and St James’s Place is amazing.

“We owe a big thank you to them for their fundraising, hard work and volunteering. Our Woodlands Area is now a special place to be celebrated enabling pupils, staff and families to support their own mental health whilst learning, playing and meeting together.”

You can watch a video of the build here:


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