Girl in a classroom at Prep Class At St Mary's Colchester in Essex

Interactive outdoor learning facilities to be expanded at St Mary’s Lower School

4 June 2019

Our Lower School, ranked the highest performing Preparatory school in Essex by the Sunday Times, has revealed plans for an extensive play area to be developed ready for the new academic year. Alongside an outdoor classroom and Forest School area, this will provide children the freedom to be adventurous and inquisitive, help them develop social skills and build self-esteem.

This multi-sensory play area for Kindergarten children and Preparatory Class (Reception) girls has been designed to enhance and extend the learning opportunities already provided in the classroom and existing outdoor learning facilities.

Mrs Emma Stanhope, Director of St Mary’s Lower School said “Outdoor learning helps children develop stronger social skills, a greater ability to work in groups and higher self-esteem, which provides solid foundations on which to build academic achievement. We believe a balanced education delivered in an engaging way, both inside the classroom and in the outdoor environment, is key to our academic success.”

The new play area has been designed by Playgarden, experts in developing natural outdoor play environments that act as a rich stimulus for creative thinking and learning, affording opportunities for challenge, enquiry, critical thinking, reflection and problem-solving.

The new play area will include natural resources which will provide texture and smell for the children to enjoy. There will be a wide range of scope for imaginative play including building, transporting and climbing. The zoned areas will include a big playground pump for the children to explore water and sand play. The kitchen garden area will provide the children with everything they need to prepare a mud feast with friends.

Mr Joe Lovegrove, whose daughter starts at St Mary’s Lower School in September, said “We were really impressed by the outdoor space at St Mary’s, especially the Forest School area. Our daughter is even more excited about joining now she’s heard about the new play area!”

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