Term and Holiday Dates 2017

Autumn Term: 05 Sept '16 - 21 Oct '16
Autumn Term: 31 Oct '16 - 21 Dec '16
Spring Term: 03 Jan '17 - 10 Feb '17
Spring Term: 20 Feb '17 - 31 Mar '17
Summer Term: 18 Apr '17 - 26 May '17
Summer Term: 05 Jun '17 - 21 July '17

(Use as a guide only. Dates may differ between regions, please check you local area here).

By Jon Alexander 18 Apr, 2017

The Academies Show is the leading free-to-attend event for schools and academies. Bringing together education professionals, key decision makers and high quality service providers, the show offers unrivalled networking opportunities and the tools to better understand the latest education policies. The event includes conferences and hands-on theaters, as well as many key note speakers .

The Playcubed team are looking forward to meeting you and discussing your playground ideas at stand 546.

When: Wednesday 26th April 2017, 09:00 - 16:30
Where: Excel London. ( View on maps )
Tickets: FREE, must be pre-booked online. Tickets can be booked here .
Event website:  www.academiesshow.london/

Venue and travel information can be found here .
By Jon Alexander 08 Feb, 2017

Play England's release,  Charter for Children’s Play,   describes play as: ‘what children and young people do when they follow their own ideas and interests, in their own way, and for their own reasons.’ Play should be freely chosen, personally directed and intrinsically motivated. That is, children and young people should be able to determine and control their play by following their own instincts, ideas and interests.

Play has also frequently been described as ‘what children and young people do when they are not being told what to do by adults’ . Many adults think that play is unnecessary; however play is a vital part of childhood and is necessary for every child’s healthy development. Through play children are able to develop the skills and abilities they will require as they grow older . Play is a biological, psychological and social necessity that is fundamental to the healthy growth, development and well-being of individuals and communities. 

It can take many forms; how a child plays is unique to him or her. For some, playing can be doing nothing in particular, it can mean doing lots, being boisterous, showing off, being contemplative, overcoming difficulties...etc. Through play children explore the world and learn to take responsibility for their own choices . Play can be sociable or solitary, play can help children to climb, swing, gallop and chase. It can help them to try new things out, push boundaries , develop confidence, explore and experiment the world around them. You can read more on the benefits of play here .

Having time and space to play gives children the opportunity to meet and socialise with their friends, keeps them physically active, and gives the freedom to choose what they want to do. Play supports children to move through each stage of their development naturally, allowing them to make friends, come to terms with difficulties, follow their instincts, think and learn from others. When children are asked about what they think is important in their lives, 'playing' and 'friends' is usually at the top of the list!

By Jon Alexander 06 Feb, 2017

Here we explore the top reasons why Artificial Grass has become so popular in schools:


Maxmise the use of your space

Artificial Grass fully utilises the space your school has by making it available for all-year-round use. Often schools have areas of natural turf which, whilst great in the warmer months, cannot be used during the winter. Such areas are prone to becoming boggy in the wet, and normally take such high footfall that they are more akin to mud patches than grass areas! This is where artificial grass comes into its own – it is ready for action all-year-round and stays looking it’s best even after years of heavy use! By choosing Artificial Grass you are maximising the use you can get out of your outdoor areas.


Minimal Maintenance

Artificial grass requires minimal maintenance, and even then a simple regular brush over is virtually all it needs. No more weeding, mowing or watering. You can read more on this in our Artificial Grass Easy 5 Step Maintenance Guide .


At last, Clean Uniforms!

The parents will thank you! Investing in artificial grass spells the end of muddy, grass-stained uniforms and footprints in the corridor!


It Blends in with the Natural Surroundings

A further benefit of Artificial Grass is that it’s unobtrusive to the eye. Like natural turf in appearance and colour, artificial grass blends in with natural surroundings without looking ugly or drawing attention to itself (that said, there are plenty of coloured options if you're after something ‘louder’).  In fact it’s becoming more and more popular as a domestic garden surface due to its pristine appearance.


Add some Style!

If you have a larger area, artificial grass is a great way to add some style to your playground! It can be mixed with other artificial surfaces , cut into shapes or patterns or used with contrasting colours with amazing results. Take a look at the surfacing in these projects at The Rise School and  Plumcroft Primary School .


Save Long Term

Artificial Grass enables you to save on maintenance and labour costs.


Soften the Blows

Although not a safety surface in it's own right (more on that below), Artificial Grass does have impact absorbing qualities, helping to cushion falls and making it a safe option over other playground surfaces.


Keep it safe

When installed with our optional UltraMat, artificial grass is a compliant safety surface. This means it can be used beneath playground equipment to meet safety regulations and satisfy fall height criteria.


If you considering having Artificial Grass installed at your school please contact us on 01322 279799 , send us an email or fill out an online enquiry here .

By Jon Alexander 03 Feb, 2017

A Themed Play Area is an area that replicates a real life situation. For example a library, a fire station, a theatre, jungle themes, historical scenes, space…the only limits are your imagination! Our bespoke design service means we can take your ideas for any theme (within reason) and create it into a feasible and compliant play space. We have recently installed areas themed to The Railway Children and X-Factor!

Themed play brings a number of unique benefits to children’s development.

By Jon Alexander 17 Jan, 2017

Propose something different!

Lots of schools will be applying for funding for an outdoor learning area. Can you make your project stand out by theming it with a focus on healthy living, wildlife or the arts? The project needs to be original and creative, whilst also being relevant and current.


Share it out

Think how the new development can be used, not only by the school children , but also  the wider community. Could community groups use the facility in the evenings or at weekends? Could you make ball courts or grassed pitches available? Is there a heritage or ecological aspect that could be exploited – could the space be used for community research or local history? Consider the use of the facility during the holidays for a school holiday camp. Your application will carry more weight if their are wider beneficiaries than just your school.


Get community buy in

Consult the community before you prepare your bid. This can include questionaires to pupils and parents, making contact with local youth groups, community organisations and voluntary groups. Find out whether they could use your space and what they would use it for. Early consultation can help you design a project that will benefit as many people as possible, strengthening your bid for funds. Include quotes from children and potential beneficiaries to make your bid stand out. Advise on how the new area will improve the users health and well-being, with the inclusion of outdoor gym equipment or a trim trail .


Take the initiative

Its worth showing some initiative by arranging some fundraising events yourselves. Whilst it may feel your putting yourself out for such a small proportion of the funds, it puts your application in a more positive light in the eyes of decision makers. School Discos, Quiz Nights, Sponsor Challenges, Fun Days, Talent Shows, Raffles, Jumble Sales, Car Washes and Bake Sales are all possible fundraising ideas!


Avoid Assumptions

Never assume that a funding body, whether local, regional or national, is familiar with your community, your school, the geographical area, local issues or your educational track record/reputation. Always include a context for your project that demonstrates your expertise as a school and the need for the project.


Write well

Good writing is the key to a good proposal. When presenting your bid, write in clear bold sentences. Don’t use acronyms or jargon. Use active language that is positive and persuasive; 'this project is necessary because...' rather than 'If this project doesn't happen...'. It may be worth contacting a bid writing company to get it done professionally. 

 

A thoroughly researched scheme with imaginative ideas, and a well written proposal is far more likely to succeed in securing funding. Visit our funding page for contact details of some funding groups.

More Posts

Recognising the impact play has on learning ability.

  • By Jon Alexander
  • 06 Sep, 2016

More schools are attempting to shorten the day by cutting break and lunchtimes, but what implications will this have on children's wellbeing and learning potential?

For me, rushing across the playground at break was the only time my imagination really came alive. It was a moment of freedom, when I could recreate the worlds I had read about in class.

However, a recent BBC report  found that not all schools in England value this free time. In fact, many are sacrificing playtimes and lunch to make the day shorter. This is happening for a variety of reasons; in some schools it’s to reduce local congestion, while others have made the change to bring teaching time in line with Department for Education guidelines. Elsewhere, playtime is being reduced to make more time for lessons.

A report from the Nuffield Foundation found that schools have been cutting breaktime since 2006. Anthony D Pellegrini, professor at the University of Minnesota, also reports that many school authorities are attempting to “maximise instructional time and minimise unstructured play time”.

As Dr David Whitebread of the University of Cambridge acknowledges in his report  The Importance of Play , “‘Play’ is sometimes contrasted with ‘work’ and characterised as a type of activity which is essentially unimportant, trivial and lacking in any serious purpose. As such, it is seen as something that children do because they are immature, and as something they will grow out of as they become adults. However… this view is mistaken. Play in all its rich variety is one of the highest achievements of the human species, alongside language, culture and technology. Indeed, without play, none of these other achievements would be possible”.

In 2012, a review of more than 40 studies  highlighted the relationship between play and creative problem-solving, cooperation and logical thinking. Research by Edward Fisher also found that play can enhance early development by anything from 33% to 67% by increasing adjustment, improving language skills and reducing social and emotional problems. This has positive implications for both educational development and everyday intellectual life.

Play keeps children fit, too. A study by Nicola D Ridgers, at Deakin University in Australia, found that longer playtimes were associated with higher levels of physical activity. And as the number of primary school children leaving school obese increases , cutting playtime could deprive them of a valuable opportunity to get the physical exercise they need. The modern child spends a lot of time indoors – children aged 5- 16 spend an average of six and a half hours a day in front of a screen compared with around three hours in 1995, according to market research firm Childwise – and for some the only real opportunity to physically exercise is during the school playtime."The main difference from the 1990's is that then TV and magazines were the main ways for connecting kids to the media; now they have different devices from tablets, mobiles, games consoles and they have a much higher screen time," said research executive Matthew Nevard.

Getting together outside of the classroom also enables young people to develop social skills. In fact, playtime may be the only opportunity some children get to interact with other young people in a safe environment. The government’s Play Strategy , published in 2008, defines play as “children and young people following their own ideas and interests, in their own way and for their own reasons.”

Children establish a sense of self through play which is particularly important at a time when “value” in primary education is increasingly being determined by test scores rather than personal development.

Too often young people choose to lose themselves in the instant gratification of gaming on a screen. But in computer games, as in Sats tests, they are scored on their performance, consolidating the idea of competitive hierarchies. Real-world play provides them with a space in which to entertain themselves using their own resources of mind and body, while nurturing a sense of self-worth.

If we don’t cut playtime, what can we do to reduce the school day? I would argue against the idea of cutting school time at all. Presumably parents have been persuaded in favour of reduced hours as only break and lunchtimes are being cut, with no cost to classroom learning. But we must recognise that play is a learning process in itself. A balance of work and letting off steam is necessary for a healthy educational environment.

Many of the reasons for reducing the school day come down to convenience – less congestion and a quicker journey home, for example. But this is often for the benefit of adults, not the children.

Play needs to be preserved in the school routine, so that children can appreciate it as part of the learning experience. 

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