Statement Playground Equipment with Instant Kid Appeal

If you need to transform your playground by installing equipment that makes a statement and which is guaranteed to get the pupils excited, then this post has exactly what you’re looking for. Here, we’ll look at equipment which has an immediate impact and has proven to be hugely popular with children up and down the country.

Freeflow climbing system

Bring excitement to your playground by installing the Freeflow climbing frame system. This modular system of interconnected components can be erected using the elements of your choice and in a layout that your pupils find most exciting. Elements can include tyre bridges, traverse walls and nets, rope crossings, crazy trails and more. There are three different packages available, Expedition, Adventure and Conquest, each with increasing numbers of components. It’s even possible to add new components to your system over time, to help spread the cost.

What makes Freeflow particularly appealing to children is that the various climbing elements are laid out in a grid structure. This means there is no definitive beginning or end and no prescribed pathway, so pupils can start and finish where they please and take the route that they find most enjoyable. This freedom of choice is where the equipment’s name, Freeflow, originated.

Aside from the sheer joy of playing on it, Freeflow is designed to encourage physical activity and to develop strength, stamina and coordination.

Trim Trails

Trim Trails

More challenge is to be had with a Trim Trails obstacle course. Kids love the physical and strategic challenges these present, spending countless playtimes trying to master individual obstacles, navigating various routes and competing with each other to finish a particular course quickest.

One of the great things about Trim Trails is that they are made up of various individual components, and this makes it possible to create a bespoke course that combines the pieces which are most suitable for your pupils. These include chin-up and dip bars, climbing nets, log climbers, balance bars, jungle bars, striding posts, swinging logs, wobbly bridges, clamber under and over challenges and many more obstacles.

There are various sets of Trim Trails available, each catering for different ages, from EYFS to secondary age. There is also a range of interchangeable Trim Trails that have easily changeable components. With these, you can routinely change elements of your course, giving children different challenges to try out.

Just like the Freeflow climbing system, Trim Trails equipment also encourages participation in physical activity and in helping to develop pupils’ resilience and self-esteem.


The Tangled range of playground equipment has become one of the most popular options for primary schools over recent years. Inspired by pirate ship rigging and giant spiders’ webs, it provides children with unlimited opportunity for both rope play and role play. Activities they can participate in include balancing, climbing, swinging and overcoming challenging manoeuvres. There are, currently, eight exciting components which can be combined to create a Tangled system. Each component has a unique design and an alluring name (e.g. tarantula, cobweb, black widow and wolf) making them irresistible statement pieces for your pupils.

Created specifically for younger children, Tangled is low-level equipment, that comes in various sizes and is just the right height off the ground for EYFS to KS2 pupils, enabling them to play safely and with confidence.

Roleplay play towers

A fantastic way to cater for children’s love of climbing and their sense of adventure is to install our roleplay play towers. From a physical activity perspective, they give ample opportunity for fun-filled play with components such as traversing ramps, tunnels, slides, bridges, sliding poles and rope ladders. They are also designed to encourage children to make up their own role play adventures and our selection of equipment provide many inspirational features such as towers and turrets, drawbridges, flags and pitched roofed dens.

There is a wide range of play tower systems to choose from, so whatever your budget or the size of your playground, there will be something suitable. These range from the simple Kingsley Play Tower and Dalton Play Castle, all the way up to our show-stopper, Vancouver Play Tower and Windsor Play Castle models.


If you want to purchase playground equipment that makes a statement and which has an immediate impact on your pupils’ outdoor enjoyment, then the four types of equipment presented here should help you find a solution. Whether you choose Freeflow, Trim Trails, Tangled or play towers, you can be sure that your playground will look the part and your pupils will be racing to have a turn.


6 Ways to Rejuvenate Your Playground This Spring

School playgrounds can take a bit of a battering during the winter. The effects of freezing temperatures, ice, snow, wind and rain all take their toll: eroding surfaces, splintering wood and rusting metal. So, if your playground is looking a little worse for wear as we near the end of winter, here are six tips to help rejuvenate it.

1. Improve grassed areas

Lawns, sports fields and grassed playing areas can suffer badly during the winter months. Heavy snow and rainfall make the surface very soft which can cause high traffic areas to become little more than quagmires. Elsewhere, the moist conditions make it easy for moss to invade, killing off the grass and causing bare patches to appear once summer comes. Damp is also a great breeding environment for fungus, some of which may be hazardous to young children.

The onset of spring is the ideal time to start tending to your grassed areas. Give them a trim, rake thoroughly to remove moss and reseed where necessary. While pesticides can be used on domestic gardens to remove weeds, moss and fungus, they may be harmful to children and so are not generally recommended for schools.

You can help prevent erosion and the spread of moss by covering the area with a layer of protective grass matting. For sports fields and other areas, you could also consider artificial grass which would require far less maintenance over the long term and ensure you had an all-weather surface which was constantly available.

2. Repair your hard services

Anyone who has seen the constant news coverage about Britain’s pothole problems will know that winter can have a devastating effect on tarmac and asphalt. When moisture that seeps into tiny cracks freezes, it expands and begins to break up the surface. Over time, this process accelerates and is made far worse if the surface is being eroded by heavy use. It doesn’t take long before your playground gets potholes or patches which have been worn away. Left unattended, these can spread and increase the cost of repair. More importantly, they become trip hazards that can lead unsuspecting children (and adults) to injure themselves.

Once the threat of frosty mornings and snowfall subsides, it is time to take a look at repairing your surfaces. Carrying out a repair to a small area now can save you the cost of having to do a much larger one if the damage is left unattended.

If your surfaces are in a poor state of repair and need more substantial work, it may be the time to consider a different form of surface altogether. If you need a robust, hard surface, consider resin bound gravel. This self-draining, low-maintenance surfacing is more attractive and longer lasting than tarmac or asphalt and is available in a range of colours. Another very popular choice is wetpour surfacing which has a soft padded feel and is ideal for younger children or for areas where pupils may get bumps or scrapes.

3. Get your playgrounds in bloom

The onset of spring is the perfect time to turn drab school grounds into a garden of delights. Snowdrops and croci arrive towards the end of February and are followed in close pursuit by daffodils, tulips and bluebells. Come May, we’ll see the apple and cherry blossom on the trees before the burst of colour that heralds the summer months.

If you have flowerbeds at school, now’s the time to start thinking of how to bring them to life and getting them ready for planting. If you’re short on space, don’t worry, there are lots of alternative options. Wooden planters and trellises are ideal for bringing a little colour right into the heart of your playground.

4. Look after local wildlife

It’s not only the plant life which can benefit when schools take an active interest in nature, the animal life can too. After a hungry winter, many animals will be on the search for food while others take advantage of the warmer weather to look for new homes or start breeding.

You can help out by creating a little nature reserve in a quiet area of the school grounds and installing nature equipment like bird tables, bug houses and butterfly boxes. The additional benefit is that children can use these areas to study the wildlife. Indeed, there are even specially designed information signs to help them identify species and investigation tables available.

5. Have your playground equipment inspected

Lots of schools now have play equipment installed and spring is the perfect time to get it inspected. Playground equipment will only stay safe if it is properly maintained so, after a harsh winter, there is no better time to have it tested by an authorised inspector. Doing this not only helps ensure your equipment is safe for the children to play on; it also helps improve the longevity of the equipment itself, as minor remedial repairs can prevent more expensive work being needed further down the line.

6. Replace outdated equipment

All equipment will eventually come to the end of its working life and spring is a good time to replace any old equipment with something new that can get plenty of use during the warmer seasons. If you have an inspection, this may point you in the direction of which pieces need replacing, though you may also find there are some pieces that are perhaps less popular with your pupils. Luckily, there is a wide range of playground equipment being developed all the time, as you can see from the broad selection we have on offer here at ESP Play.


Once the last frost has thawed, it is time for schools to turn their attention to the state of their playgrounds and outdoor spaces. Looking after the grassed areas, repairing hard surfaces and creating habitats for the flora and fauna are all ways to rejuvenate your grounds. At the same time, it is vital that you have your equipment inspected and that, if there’s the need or the desire, you replace some of your older pieces with something new.


Top 10 Playground Markings for EYFS

A great deal of the learning that takes place during early years education is done through play. This post will look at a selection of playground markings that are both fun for young children to play on but which also help them with a range of basic skills. Covering literacy, numeracy, time, direction, weather and road safety, here are our top ten playground markings for EYFS.

1. Alpha Clock Target

The multi-purpose alpha clock target is ideal for taking literacy and numeracy outdoors to help children learn the alphabet, basic numbers and the position of the hours on an analogue clock. It can also be used for throwing practice and to develop coordination skills.

There are numerous games that can be devised for this marking, such as standing in the centre and throwing bean bags towards a letter or getting children to run around the circle and when someone shouts for them to stop, they call out the number they land on.

2. Mathematical Number Grid

Installing a mathematical number grid playground marking is a great way to help children learn to count up to 100 and discover the relationship between numbers. There are lots of games that can be played on the grid, such as stepping up in multiples, standing on odds and evens, counting on using dice – you can even chalk on some snakes and ladders.

3. The Offset-Stepper

The offset stepper combines traditional hopscotch with number learning and physical agility. Children can count up to and down from 12 in single or multiple numbers, having to hop, jump, step and side shuffle as they go.

4. Phonetic Spots

Using some of the most common phonetic letter combinations, the fun phonetic spots marking is a great way to begin to teach basic reading skills. Just get the children to land on a spot and shout out the correct sound. Once they have mastered individual sounds, stand on two spots and combine them. For more advanced games, stand on a spot and say a word that has the sound in it.

5. Roadway

The roadway is a large marking that is excellent for getting children participating in role play as it creates a road system in your playground that children can take journeys on. It can include parking bays, a petrol station, a roundabout, shops and zebra crossings.

Aside from creative play, it is also useful for teaching road safety. Children can learn the safe places to cross a road, how to stop, look and listen and find out which side of the road traffic travels on - all in the safety of the playground.

6. Weather Symbols & Days

winter weather

Featuring the days of the school week (Monday to Friday) and the weather symbols for sunshine, rain, cloud and snow, the weather playground marking is a good way to help children to recognise the spellings of the days of the week and learn about different types of weather.

7. Compass Multi-marking

The compass multi-marking enables children to learn the basic compass points, north, south, east and west, together with the more advanced directions, NE, SE, SW and NW. The compass points are installed accurately in playgrounds so that children can use them to learn about their environment. For example, they can discover that the canteen is to the north and the exits are to the south. They can even use it to look at things like the way the sun travels through the sky during the day or to find clues in a playground treasure hunt.

8. Compass Hopscotch

Another compass variation is the compass hopscotch marking. Aside from learning the compass points, pupils can practice their knowledge by being asked to follow directions as they play the game, for example, start at the south, then head west.

9. Footwork Vowels

This literacy-focused marking is designed to help children learn the vowels, a key skill needed when they start to read. It can be used for games where children call out a vowel so that their friends have to stand on it or for teachers to call out vowels in rapid succession so that the children have to step quickly to keep up. This is also a great marking to help with balance and agility.

10. Letter Stepper

The letter stepper marking lets children follow the alphabet all the way from A to Z and learn different colours as they go. As a stepper, it’s good for developing balance and can be used in a range of fun ways that combine literacy and numeracy, for example, step on every second letter and call it out or find the letters of your name and count how many letters it has.


As you can see, our top ten EYFS playground markings don’t just provide opportunities for lots of fun, they can also help children learn about letters, sounds, numbers, directions, time, days of the week and weather types. In addition, they can be used to bring on physical skills such as balance, coordination and agility as well as fostering social skills as the pupils learn to play together.


Can Outdoor Play Really Accelerate Pupil Progress?

While we aren’t suggesting that schools cut down curriculum time in favour of extended breaks, recent research has shown that providing an outdoor environment that enables pupils to participate in active play can have a positive effect on their academic progress. In this post, we’ll look at what your school can do to help your pupils.

Fitter children progress better

According to Public Health England, there is a correlation between the fitness of a pupil and their academic progress. Those who are aerobically active tend to produce better academic results than their inactive classmates. Being able to increase aerobic fitness in a cohort of students, therefore, is a good way to help them progress better in their studies.

One of the problems facing schools is the lack of physical activity children do. With an over-fondness for screen time and lack of opportunity at home, few children get the hour of daily physical activity recommended for good heart health. However, schools can do things to encourage more active play on their own premises. One inexpensive solution is to install playground markings. There’s such a wide range to choose from that you’ll find something that will tempt even the most inert pupils to get moving. These include sports markings such as football, netball, tennis and basketball, training markings for ball and feet skills, plus a wide range of games, like hopscotch.

Getting children to boost their aerobic health means they’ll be fitter overall and more alert in lessons, helping them have more focus and energy to progress further.

Cut down on poor behaviour

The poor behaviour of a small number of pupils can affect the learning of the entire class and if this happens persistently, the long-term progress of all pupils can be held back. Finding adequate solutions to classroom behaviour can, therefore, help everyone achieve their targets. Here again, physical activity has been shown to have an influence, reducing disruptive behaviour and improving social relationships within the classroom. Key to this is finding ways of getting pupils not just to play actively but to do so together. Installing climbing frames and roleplay equipment, together with the sports markings mentioned above, is one way to encourage such group activities.

Develop problem-solving skils

Being able to solve problems is essential if children are to make progress in their studies, however, it is a skill that isn’t just acquired from sitting behind a desk. Problem-solving is something that can be learnt in the playground and transferred to more academic pursuits. By installing equipment such as Trim Trails, pupils will not only enjoy playing on these fun obstacle courses, they’ll also need to spend time solving the navigation problems they put in their way. What’s the best route? What’s the right way to get across a piece of equipment? How do I stop myself from falling off? Do I need speed or balance to complete this obstacle effectively?

Of course, as this is play, children see the challenge as fun and those who are averse to work will learn without feeling the pressures that they may do during lesson times. What’s even better about Trim Trails is that you can add interchangeable components, enabling you to provide children with a new set of problems to solve whenever you want.

Where's the proof?

Research carried out by Public Health England shows that pupils who take part in physical activity progress better academically. On average, those who took part regularly achieved GCSE exam marks that were between ten and twenty per cent higher than their less-active counterparts. That shows there is a significant gap in progress between those who are active and those who are not.

For schools, therefore, the message is clear. If you want pupils to make better progress, the playground can offer solutions that can work in tandem with your classroom initiatives. Getting pupils to play more actively can make them aerobically fitter, help them learn to solve problems, prevent disruption and keep them motivated and on task.

Indeed, independent research from Liverpool John Moores and Roehampton Universities has shown that in schools with outdoor playground equipment, 70% of pupils spent more time being moderately and vigorously active. And with such a wide range of playground equipment now available, schools can cater for the diverse interests of all their pupils.


With the constant pressure to improve pupil progress, many schools have put far more emphasis on the classroom than they have on the playground. The link between physical activity and academic performance, however, is an important reminder that the brain relies on the body if it is to perform at its best. Giving opportunities for fun, active play is one way to help boost progress while giving something back to the children who work so hard and under increasing pressure.


6 Ways Preschool Children Benefit from Outdoor Play

According to the website, one in five children are overweight or obese by the time they start reception class and this rises to one in three by the end of primary school. For many children, this is due not only to poor diet and a lack of exercise but also because they lack enthusiasm for physical activity. Challenging this early, before they start school, can bring a number of important benefits and in this post, we’ll look at what they are.

1. Outdoor play improves fitness

Even at such a young age, outdoor play can have a positive impact on a child’s fitness. Indeed, it is as important at this age as it is at any other. Though most preschool children will be happy running around having fun in the playground, providing them with equipment that allows them to increase their activity levels and which requires them to use their strength can improve fitness even more. Good examples include climbing equipment, which is great for developing strength and sports markings which can encourage aerobic activity.

2. Makes exercise enjoyable

Giving children the opportunity to participate in active play is a great way for them to discover the joy of exercise. Unlike PE, which is imposed upon children and can often put them off taking part, free play on outdoor play equipment can engender a passion for activity. This can help change attitudes to sport and physical activity over the long-term, setting up the child for a healthy lifestyle in the future.

Equipment such as Trim Trail obstacle courses and play towers are great fun to play on and perfect for active role play.

3. Improves balance and coordination

Balance and coordination are two key physical skills which children will rely on as they move into primary school. There are some exceptionally good pieces of playground equipment that can be used to motivate children to take part in activities that help bring these skills along. In particular, our Free Flow and Tangled apparatus all provide exciting ways for children to practice balancing and to coordinate different parts of the body as they play.

4. Maintaining a healthy weight

One of the advantages of outdoor play is that children get to burn off calories while they are being active. While diet certainly plays a part in obesity, the reason so many people are overweight is that we consume more calories than we use. Even children with a healthy diet can become overweight if they do not exercise enough.

To ensure that children burn more of the calories they eat, it is recommended that they do 60 minutes of moderate to vigorous physical activity every day. Providing stimulating outdoor equipment that gets them running, jumping, swinging and climbing can contribute significantly to that 60-minute goal and, in doing so, help them maintain a healthy weight.

5. Develop social skills

It’s not just a child’s physical development that is improved by taking part in active outdoor play. Studies have shown that it is also an excellent way to help children develop their social skills. When playing in groups, children are placed into situations where they have to communicate and work together and this helps to start the development of skills they will rely on later in life.

A clever selection of the right playground equipment can help preschool children learn to turn take, negotiate, encourage and support one and other. Imaginative, sports and role play equipment are all useful in different ways and a combination of these can have a significant impact in accelerating the early development of these skills.

6. Develop confidence, resilience and independence

One of the great things about active free play is that it gives children the opportunity to do things for themselves. Given the right types of equipment, this can help children become more independent, confident and resilient.

Equipment such as Trim Trails and climbing frames are excellent for this as they present challenges that, when successfully completed, make children feel confident about their abilities. And by overcoming minor setbacks, such as not being able to conquer an obstacle first time, they develop resilience.

In addition, these types of equipment help foster independence. Children choose the pathway across the Trim Trail or climbing frame that is best for them and to do this, they have to make their own, independent decisions about which apparatus to play on, which route they will take and how to tackle the challenges it throws.


Active outdoor play has lots of benefits for preschool children, especially when appropriate play equipment is provided. It benefits their physical health, improving fitness, developing balance and coordination, maintaining healthy body weight and creating a positive attitude towards physical exercise. In addition, it helps the development of social skills as well as bringing on increased confidence, resilience and independence.

If you are looking to improve your preschool playground, check out our range of products or look at our free playground design service.