A new outdoor education and play area has been opened, built by students from an Alternative Provision Academy, thanks to a unique partnership which included Splash Projects.

The extensive outdoor area at Withycombe Raleigh C of E Primary School consists of a striking hexagonal classroom shelter forming the centrepiece of a multi-use open air platform, which will open out onto play & educational zones. These will include an edible garden, a rustic communal seating area, a music area and a series of natural timber climbing pods.

It has been built by students from Central Devon Academy in Exeter, which is an Alternative Provision Academy catering for students who often have had a fragmented education. Under this new initiative 12 students have been planning, preparing and building the learning and play facility for the Exmouth primary school.

The Central Devon Academy students have been given this rare opportunity to work on the project, thanks to a unique partnership between the Academy, Withycombe Primary and Exmouth project-management and leadership training company, Splash Projects. The Central Devon Academy students have been working on the site every week during the school year under the supervision of a Splash Project Manager and have had the chance to gain valuable vocational skills. As well as learning skills needed to complete the project and gaining an insight into the workplace, the students have had the opportunity to work towards a valuable Health & Safety qualification. Splash Projects’ team consists of former British forces personnel with extensive experience of leadership and management training, as well as construction and engineering skills.

“We are always looking for ways in which to give our students additional vocational skills and experience of the workplace environment,” said Central Devon Academy Principal, Dan Whelan. “What really attracted us to this project is that it also gives our students the chance to give something back to the community and have a greater awareness of the needs of others. We are delighted to see their progress and celebrate all they have achieved.”

The pupils at Withycombe Raleigh C of E Primary School were already involved with designing an outdoor play area and a parent, architect Chris Woods, kindly created architectural plans interpreting the children’s ideas. Withycombe Primary School was approached about the partnership project and was keen to take part, which allowed further work to progress. The initial plans were then built upon by Splash’s own designer to create the final vision for the new facility.

“Withycombe Raleigh C of E Primary is a successful, thriving and growing school and this project is crucial in supporting a flexible quality outdoor provision,” said Headteacher Steve Powley. “Splash Projects’ excellent project management, knowledge and construction skills have enabled this project to ‘come to life’ and give our school an amazing resource for extended learning and play.

“We have been delighted to be part of a partnership with both Splash Projects and the Central Devon Academy. We believe passionately in giving opportunities to young people and this has helped enable the Academy students to gain the skills they may need for future employment. We have been impressed by the quality of work, dedication, professionalism and commitment which has made all of this happen.”

Withycombe Primary’s PTFA has contributed a significant and generous sum of money to help support the project, all of which has been raised by families and friends of the school through various fundraising initiatives.

“Our company ethos is to leave a better footprint on the world and where better than in our own home county?” said Splash Projects’ Managing Director Simon Poole. “We were very keen to help young people improve their employability skills and confidence, whilst at the same time providing a much-needed facility for the children at Withycombe Raleigh C of E Primary School. We are now looking to roll this model out to other academies, schools and colleges around the region.”

Photo: Pupils from Withycombe C of E Primary School, with Headteacher Steve Powley and Wayne Stewart of Splash Projects

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