When I received an invitation from the incredible Jill Farthing, Headeteacher at Tarland School to visit I jumped at the chance. A few phonecalls later and I had booked travel to & from Aberdeen, arranged a lift & somewhere to stay (thanks Helen Ridehalgh, Sandy Ridehalgh, Iain Ridehalgh and Rhiannon Wilmot) and off I went to visit one of our £1o,ooo winners from last year.
You see this wasn’t any invite. Tarland School were finally opening their new playground, designed by the pupils and paid for by the Kids First Trust Playground Partnerships Scheme. I remember this school portfolio very well. You see the children had captured their ideas and dreams for the new design on a dreamcatcher.
Not one element of the children’s design was cut in the final finished article. As the Playground Partnerships Team took me on a tour around their new play area they explained the reasons behind every single item we came across. The playground now boasts a stage area, football goal posts, a quiet area, gigantic play pencils, smaller games that are attached to the walls and lots more besides. The piece de resistance is the total transformation of the tree area where the Playground Partnerships team designed a climbing area amongst the existing woodland.
I spoke at length with the pupils that formed the team and one story will remain with me for a long time yet. One pupil recounted the day she had to ring a local businessman to ask for a quote. She had never made a phonecall before and so understandably, felt very nervous. She did it though and its not just the teachers that recognise what an achievement it was, she does too:
“it was brilliant. I know I can do anything”
I can talk about the skills and confidence that children develop through the scheme as much as I am allowed to but hearing such stories directly from the pupils that participate in Playground Partnerships illustrates it best. As adults we think nothing of picking up a phone and making a call. For a 9yr old its a big deal. Furthermore, it made her feel like she can do anything. I’d say that’s a pretty important outcome.
It is enough to blow any adult’s mind when you see the creativity and thought that these primary aged pupils have put into their area. However, this is not all that the team are doing. Not wanting to leave things unfinished, they have now handed over the Playground Project to the incoming School Council made up on younger pupils as the PP team move on to Secondary School. The new school council has plans of its own.
As Jill so succinctly put it “even if we hadn’t won the money, going through the process has given the children so much confidence they would have found it from somewhere anyway” and having met them, I believe her.
Since the school found out it won the Playground Partnerships award they have always won the Eco Schools recognition and a competition run by Shell; they have appeared on Scottish TV and made the local press.
Thank you to all of our supporters that help make children’s dreams come true. You certainly started something at Tarland School….