New playground a hit with the community

Alexandra Primary's new playground encourages safe risk-taking, develops strength & coordination and provides challenges for all students.

Playgrounds are an essential part of any primary school. They are the locus of lunchtime socialising, and they provide opportunities for students to develop motor control and problem-solving skills. So, when Alexandra Primary School received their funding from the Schools Investment Package, students overwhelmingly voted to replace their old playground, which had been closed for safety reasons. The vote led Principal Fiona Mackley to begin the search for a suitable playground provider.

Mackley knew she wanted the new playground to “be fit for younger students as well as provide challenges up to Year 8”. The aim was for the new design to “encourage safe risk taking and to develop students’ strength and coordination”.

With these goals in mind, Fiona reached out to Park Supplies & Playgrounds via their website and was quickly put in touch with resident Playground Consultant Melissa Cowie. Despite the challenges of the Covid-19 period, Fiona and Melissa were able to have a successful consultation over Zoom.

Mackley said: “Mel got really creative with the playground design and was able to utilise our available funding to the absolute maximum. The proposal was very comprehensive; it included all health and safety considerations as well as options for ground cover.”

Three proposals were considered, but Alexandra Primary ultimately chose Park Supplies & Playgrounds’ design. The decision came down to a matter of quality, and the school’s Board of Trustees was particularly drawn to the fact that all Park Supplies & Playgrounds’ equipment is made in New Zealand.

During the installation, Managing Director Jon Hooper ensured the job was done efficiently and safely, despite an initial hiccup with a Dunedin-based subcontractor. Hooper ended up flying in their Auckland-based team to ensure a smooth installation. Fiona says the students were kept informed and engaged throughout the process, and that the finished playground has already had a positive impact on their community.

“It’s amazing to see how the children are so supportive and work together as a team. I would definitely go back to [Park Supplies & Playgrounds] for my next playground project. All the key people were fantastic to work with [and] communication was seamless.”

Naomii Seah

Naomii Seah is a writer and journalist from Tāmaki Makaurau Auckland, Aotearoa New Zealand. She enjoys crochet, painting, and a coffee or two at the beach. Her work can be found at The Spinoff, The Pantograph Punch, Stuff, and of course, School News NZ.
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