Poringland is a village, five miles south-east of the City of Norwich. The village is perhaps most famous for the painting of the Poringland Oak, by John Crome, that hangs in the National Gallery in London. During the Second World War, the village was only home to around 500 people, but due to its proximity to the city and the fact that it sat on relatively poor land for farming, has since grown quite rapidly to nearer 5,000 at the 2011 census.
The school itself opened in 1967 to 460 pupils, saw a steady decline to around 210 in 1982 and has grown again to around 440 pupils today. It's now under the inspirational headship of Peter Dean, affectionally know as Pirate Pete by the CAP.Co team.
The site has a central playing field with woodland that surrounds it and some unused space near the school itself. Our first job in phase one was to create an early years classroom outdoors that creates a multi-use space of around 10mx10m. It links seamlessly into the school building and takes the children over a covered bridge to reach their destination. At the same time, working with Pete and his team, we created the new adventure play in the woodland area.
You can see the overview of the site here:
The vision was to get children outside, playing and learning together in the natural environment. This outdoor play also had a covered area that allows informal teaching and even includes a blackboard. This is used for role play, performances along with dry(ish) play when it rains.
You can see the scope of what we explored with the initial sketches
From the initial sketches and getting a better understanding of the site, we worked up some of our usual CGI's so the team could start to imagine the size and scale of the proposed build.
With the success of phase one, a short while later and after some exceptional fund-raising by Pete and his board of Governors, we returned to Poringland for Phase 2 of the build. This saw us extend into the surrounding woodlands with a more rustic and adventurous play build. We created longer runs of ground play and then a challenging climbing wall, perfect for the game of 'the floor is lava' or whatever you may term that brilliant pastime from your own childhood (normally played at home across any piece of furniture, curtains, pets and door frames 😀).
The play weaved its way around the trees drawing children of different ages to play and discover together. There's even a zip-wire for some fast flying fun.
The last piece in the play jigsaw was a ship-shape play structure, now christened HMS Rainbow, as a thank you to the work of our fabulous NHS.
The project was funded through a series of initiatives. The incredibly active and committed School PTA held fundraising events to pay for much of the work and the rest was achieved through grants and the Sports Premium.
It's a project that has been delivered by a team of leaders, teachers and parents who are striving to improve the education of the children in their care. We love this way of thinking and rather than treating these smaller school projects as our bread and butter work, rather like the teams we work with, we throw every ounce of passion we have into helping them deliver their vision.
The final build is a beautiful thing and comes to life in these images.