Orchard Head is a proud member of the Pontefract Academies Trust, which comprises of six primaries and two secondary schools all located within the Pontefract district. Orchard Head has around 350 pupils, including a thriving nursery.

School: Orchard Head Junior, Infant & Nursery School

Location: Pontefract

The culture at Orchard Head is to aspire to be a happy, vibrant, and successful school community. They firmly believe in laying the foundations on which children can build their futures. All staff work hard to instil an early love for learning; they aim to capture and nurture it, enabling every child the best opportunity to grow into confident, independent, and successful individuals.

Their curriculum is designed to equip children with the knowledge, understanding and basic skills that they will need as they continue their learning journey through primary education and beyond.

This investment at Orchard Head into their Early Years outdoor provision forms part of an exciting Trust wide strategy to provide the best possible environments for children to learn.  ESP Play were chosen again by Pontefract Academies Trust following two successful projects at Halfpenny Lane Junior and Infant and the Rookeries school.

Orchard Head had a very large space for their nursery and reception play areas which was divided in to two separate outdoor areas.  You can see from the drone footage we captured before the installation that neither area really flowed or offered and real opportunities for high quality physical development.  With the new EYFS curriculum placing a heavy emphasis on gross motor and fine development, it was very important to create a natural early years play area with open ended playground equipment to trigger imagination, promote curiosity and to develop every child physically.  Our talented design team included the following within this fantastic development:

  • A natural water feature combined with a magnetic water wall.  This is a fantastic way to promote problem solving through water play whilst providing an experience outdoor that can not be created indoors.  Having contact with natural boulders, creating a real time stream and the natural noise of a water fall really engages the children. Working and communicating together to make dams, control water flow, create ice in the winter… the learning is endless!!!!


  • Jungle Bars, balance beams, tunnel and mounds, raised play huts, challenge net and a log weave are all item selected for this development.  These products were selected for this outstanding EYFS play area to target specific muscles and skills. The development of upper body muscles are very important in a child’s early formative years.  The chest, the shoulders and the grip are all connected to a child ability to hold a pen correctly and to form neat handwriting.  The more exposure children can have to upper body exercises the better their handwriting will be.  On top of this, it is critical to development co-ordination, balance and key fundamental movement skills.  These are the building blocks to a child’s future physical ability and health.


  • Other areas included a selection of new playground surfacing to create a new tactile and sensory environment that can be access through the year.  The playground surfacing selected for this playground development enables the school to provide a high-quality outdoor provision whatever the weather.  Within the surfacing, our team integrated a sensory roadway constructed using block paving.  Again, a natural material that will last forever and provide a range of tactile and sensory experiences while the child use it for their trikes or as a barefoot pathway.


  • Additional products used were stages for role play, cosy dens for one to one or group ready, large black boards for mark making, individual storage areas for the accessories and material for the children to access and put away themselves.


We are proud of this play area development which is why we want to show it off.  Take a look at the stunning drone footage provided within this case study and see for yourself.  The impact has been amazing.