Playtime put on hold at Benhall Primary School – for a year
Glum-faced schoolchildren have waited almost a year to reclaim their adventure playground – left “like a quagmire” following construction of a new classroom.
Pupils at Benhall Primary School, near Saxmundham, have been denied a “rite of passage” since the lottery-funded playground was relocated, but left incomplete, last February.
The play area, paid for with £10,000 of lottery money, was unveiled in October 2013, and proved so popular that a rota was put in place to ensure all pupils were given a fair turn.
When work began on a new classroom for year three and four pupils in 2015, the play area had to be relocated – but pupils have since been unable to enjoy the equipment, which includes monkey bars and a climbing frame.
Some work was carried out last October half-term but the school’s headteacher, Chris Gallagher, was less than satisfied with the result, which he said had left the play area “like a quagmire”.
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Rubber matting, originally laid under the equipment to improve safety for the pupils, had not been replaced. In the meantime, weeds emerged from the topsoil laid after construction of the classroom.
Building debris was also left on the play area, which neighbours a larger concrete court where the children’s break time has been confined.
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Mr Gallagher said: “The idea was to re-site the playground area, which the children love. The classroom was fabulous, but somewhere along the line, it seems no-one thought to finish the play area.
“We expected to come back with the work done and the play area ready to reopen – but we found some of the equipment loose, and bits of fencing and concrete.
“It’s now a year since the play area was cut in half. It’s the result of a long line of communication failures.”
Mr Gallagher said the classroom was built by a firm contracted by Suffolk County Council, with the play area work subcontracted to another company.
“We ended up with three tiers of communication,” he said.
“The children keep asking when it’s going to be ready. The monkey bars are like a rite of passage for them.”
Suffolk County Council said work to restore the play area to its former condition will take place over February half-term.