CHILDREN in a Northumberland village are having an additional amount of fresh air fun each week following a successful grant bid.
The project to develop a specialist outdoor play and learning area for reception pupils at Belsay First School includes new paving stones, a wet pour rubber surface, a section with bark chippings and a grass area.
Most of the works were recently carried out after staff received £9,949 from the Big Lottery Fund’s small grants programme, Awards for All. The school also did some fund-raising and there was a donation from Belsay Estates.
The area will also be used by Belsay Day Care, which is on the school site. It runs activities for pre-school children during the day and an after-school club.
Belsay First School headteacher Lilian Harris said: “School budgets are tight, but we want to do all we can to help our children and so it’s absolutely fantastic that we received almost £10,000 from the Big Lottery Fund for the outdoor play and learning area.
“The outdoor environment is a very important part of a child’s development and this project has been in the planning for six months. We wanted to make sure that we didn’t just put a lot of equipment in the area and instead we have installed a range of surfaces to give them space to explore.
“The equipment we do have in place will help to improve their strength and balance.
“The new area is already making a difference as we can now do more outdoor educational activities and the new surfaces make it easier for the children to go outside in their wellies when it is wet and muddy.”
The existing high-quality willow tunnel and sandpit have remained in place and a mound with a slide will be available in the spring.
The school has an organic vegetable garden and pupils do a lot of planting and its green outdoor works were recognised this year with a Love Northumberland Award.