Schoolforce revisited - how we transformed one school's outside space

Friday, April 29, 2016 - 15:24

Elliotts has challenged schools across Hampshire and Dorset to design an outdoor living space for their grounds this term, but it's not the first time we've helped out a school in need.

Back in 2008 Elliotts teamed up with Radio Hampshire to launch Schoolsforce - a competition that saw primary schools all around the county write in to the radio station explaining why they needed a new outdoor space. Out of the hundreds of applications, Fairisle Junior School in Lordshill, which wanted to make its pond and environmental area more accessible for disabled children, was picked.

We still have some of the letters that the children and deputy headteacher wrote to us eight years ago:

Fairisle Junior School even planned a whole school project around the competition, with pupils drawing and painting their pond area in art lessons. We were really impressed by their dedication and very persuasive letter writing skills.

It took five days of serious hard work to transform the school's overgrown pond area into a relaxing deck that pupils of all abilities could enjoy. Benches hidden in the shade of the large trees provided a quiet and reflective space for the children to work in. Our choice of decking also meant that the area could be used in all weathers, something we experienced at the grand opening when the heavens opened.

Donna Cross, sales and marketing coordinator, was part of the team that built the Schoolforce project. She said: "It was five days of teamwork and toil in all weathers to finish the Schoolforce project but we all had one goal in mind: improving this school that desperately needed it.

"Seeing how happy the children were when we opened the pond and environmental area was priceless, especially the children who had to use wheelchairs or crutches and couldn't access it before. I'm so excited to do it all again and I'll be looking over every entry for our new competition."

Elliotts has given primary schools until 1 July to submit designs drawn by pupils in years three and four to the Elliotts Outdoor Living Space competition. They might be for a pond area, like Fairisle Junior School's was, a quiet area to relax in, a new section to play in or an outside classroom. Elliotts has suggested six categories for schools to choose from:

  • Playtime
  • Quiet time and reflection
  • Wildlife
  • Friendship
  • Learning
  • Renewable

The Elliotts team will pick the winner, create technical drawings from the school children's plans, assist with specifications and arrange for the materials and products to be delivered to the site. Elliotts staff will also give up their time and expertise to help the schools build their space.

To enter, all you need to do is email with a contact name, number and email address. You have until 1 July to submit your designs and a description of how you will use the outdoor area. Four finalists will also win a framed commemorative drawing of their designs to hang in their school.

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