Outdoor fun as housebuilder puts an end to muddy playtimes

Stonewood Partnerships installed an all-weather surface at Walter Powell Academy.

Pupils at a tiny village school can play out all year round thanks to work donated by a housebuilder.

Stonewood Partnerships, which is creating a 38-home neighbourhood at Great Somerford, arranged for an all-weather surface to be installed at the village’s Somerfords’ Walter Powell Academy outdoor play area after hearing that for much of the year it can’t be used.

School lead Lisa Shibley said in wet weather the climbing frames and rope walks had to be placed out of bounds because the grass underneath became too muddy and slippery, making it dangerous as well as a headache for the cleaners when the mud was trodden indoors.

Experts from Stonewood’s sister groundworks company Earthworks laid the new surface.

Miss Shibley said: “This is going to be brilliant at playtimes, especially when it is a wet day in the Autumn and Winter terms."

“The pupils will still be able to come out and play and enjoy lots of different activities instead of being confined to the playground. They have got this lovely new surface, which means they have got this area to play on all year round.”

The pandemic has hampered the school’s Parent Teacher Association’s fundraising activities, said Miss Shibley, so the donation was very timely.

“We are really grateful to Stonewood because without them we would have had to wait a long time. Although our PTA was going to raise funds it is a lot of money and fundraising has been hard so we were delighted when Stonewood kindly stepped in,” she said.

“Our PTA is very good and it is amazing what they have still managed to bring in. They have done some brilliant things like a Harvest Café at the allotments that raised quite a lot of money.”

The new development at Somerbrook on the edge of the village, which has just a handful of homes left to be reserved, has had a huge impact on the school.

“We have already got half a dozen new children from the development and there are a few more in the pipeline,” said Miss Shibley. “Being a small school that is really important, with only 47 pupils, having that number join us is a big boost.”

Sam Smart, managing director of Stonewood Partnerships, said: “One of the things that is important to us is being part of the community where we are working. When we heard about the need for this surface, and the difference it would make to the pupils, we were delighted to be able to help."

“This is a wonderful school and we hope that our contribution makes playtimes even more fun.”