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Valence Special School, Westerham

Valence Special School

Our work with Valence afforded us a great opportunity to produce some impressive new Special Needs playground equipment during our makeover of their quiet area.  Between rotten timber and overgrown plants, it was badly in need of modernising, leading Valence to contact us given our history working with special needs schools to work with their staff to design a fun-filled exciting interactive area for their children.

Some existing areas of surfacing were perfectly serviceable, so we built our design around them and removed everything else – from trees to concrete to fencing – leaving a blank canvas for ourselves to create their new playground from the ground up.

Our aim was to design and install wheelchair-friendly play equipment throughout the area, starting with a wheelchair-friendly take on our Hobbit House.  We widened the whole unit, including the doorway, allowing enough room for any wheelchair to access the unit, while still including bench seats for non-wheelchair-users.  For additional sensory enjoyment we added colourful porthole windows to compliment the artificial grass tactile outer.

Valence was the first outing for our Sensory Tunnel.  The tunnel was designed with wheelchair users in mind, while creating a sensory experience for all children to enjoy.  From tactile panels to colourful windows, to music panels, talk tubes and mirrors, the Sensory Tunnel creates an environment that can be used whatever the weather, and is the pinnacle of our Inclusive Play range.

For a natural play element we designed an elevated pond dipping area with access ramps for wheelchair users, incorporating pond dipping tables and a solar powered fountain all positioned at a level for the children to safely interact with, finished with timber totems to help them to identify the various mini-beasts living in the pond.  We surrounded this area with safa decking and safa mulch rubber surfacing to create a safe, anti-slip area that would be low-maintenance all year round.

The finished playground is light years ahead of the original, incorporating loads of sensory aspects along with more traditional play items and a fully accessible natural play area that, all in all, will help Valence in their efforts to stimulate and enhance the experiences of every young SEN pupil who depends on them.