Four new play areas funded for special school in the Rhondda valley

Wooden Spoon Wales’ most significant project last year was Ysgol Hen Felin at Ystrad in the Rhondda valley.

Ysgol Hen Felin Ystrad Rhondda Wales is a local authority special school for pupils (3-19 years) with profound, moderate, severe and complex special needs. The school currently has 185 pupils on roll, and is comprised of 16 classes in the main building and two classes based at their ‘satellite’ Post 16 provision at Rhondda Campus of Coleg y Cymoedd.

The school’s existing playground did not have any play equipment which reduced opportunities to develop pupil’s physical and mental development during their break and lunch times.

With the very generous support from one of their main Corporate supporters Admiral Insurance, Wooden Spoon Wales were able to fund the construction of four specialist age-related play areas costing £30,000. Wooden Spoon Wales Chairman, Huw Thomas said “What struck us at Wooden Spoon was the children enjoyed a safe and happy environment, provided by a dedicated team of teachers and support staff.”

Headteacher, Aron Bradley told Wooden Spoon “Many of our pupils find social interactions very difficult and this inability to interact with both adults and other children is often a significant hurdle to their ability to learn academic concepts. Consequently, access to high quality play opportunities is vital to ensure that pupil’s interaction skills are developed to support their ability to learn in the classroom.”

“The newly introduced play structures have quickly become a valuable school resource which classes access to develop and embed vital life skills. Staff and pupils play together and practice skills such as waiting and turn-taking, staff utilise the areas to work on pupil’s gross motor skills and individual targets.”

“Additionally, pupils get to experience uncrowded play areas and develop the skills they require to support them when accessing pubic parks with their families (these parks can often be stressful environments for our pupils who can struggle with noise and crowds.)”

Aron continued “The play structures themselves have extended our ability to provide high quality outdoor classroom areas and opportunities. Teachers now plan lessons to include learning activities which take place on the playground areas.”

“Pupils now engage in Maths and Numeracy counting sessions while climbing the slide steps, Language, Literacy and Communication sessions are reinforced with the regular use of vocabulary such as up, down, around, again, over, under etc.”

“Health and Wellbeing is supported through the creative use of exercises and physical activities which are crucial to our pupils. Alongside these planned lesson activities, these new structures have also been creatively used to create dens and reading nooks which capture our pupil’s imaginations and increase their general life experiences.”

“We are hugely thankful to the Wooden Spoon Charity for their support in developing our playground spaces!”

If you would like to get involved with Wooden Spoon Wales and help local vulnerable children and young people in the local area, please click here.