Devonport apprentices bring colour to Plymouth playground

A Primary School’s playground in Plymouth has been transformed by the work of apprentices from HMNB Devonport.

Keyham Barton Catholic Primary School was chosen as a community project for the Phase 1 DE&S Advanced Management Engineer apprentices, and working together with Head teacher Shelley England turned, what was a concrete area into a brightly coloured and exciting playground.

The apprentices were split into two groups, each with a project manager and deputy. They were encouraged to come up with their own ideas for the project and presented them to Shelley for consideration.

Initially, Shelley didn`t have a budget so the groups had to know about the budget options – low, medium or no expense spared!

What the apprentices have provided for us at Keyham Barton is a beautiful space to support our community's emotional wellbeing

Shelley England, Head teacher Keyham Barton Catholic Primary School

Once Shelley decided which option she liked, she applied for a grant with the North Yard Trust.

"What the apprentices have provided for us at Keyham Barton is a beautiful space to support our community's emotional wellbeing; it is well documented that being outside and in nature can help, and as a school, we ensure that as much learning as possible takes place outside of the classroom.

“However, as an inner-city school, we are challenged with a distinct lack of access to quiet, green spaces as well as appropriate playground space. 

“We had been toying with vertical planting as an efficient way to bring nature into our playground, but sourcing people to install it as well as finance it meant we were unable to move forward. 

“Thanks to the expertise and creativity of these young engineers, and a generous grant from The North Yard Trust, our school now has a place where children can learn and play, as well as 'be'. 

“The excitement and joy our children showed when it first opened was incredible, and they are all looking forward to seeing how their plants grow as well as enjoying a space that connects with their senses.

“I have been thoroughly impressed with the professionalism and commitment from the engineers and we are grateful to the Royal Navy and North Yard Trust for making this happen."

There to officially open the new play area in the school was Captain Andy Price RN, the new Captain of the Base (COB) at HMNB Devonport. 

“It is a great honour, at the end of my first week as Captain of the Base, to be able to open this new play area,” said Andy.

“This collaborative project, led by the Devonport Apprentices, has clearly required innovation, enthusiasm, teamwork and some hard graft.

“The imaginative, wonderfully colourful end-product is a testament to this and is another great example of the local Community working together to make a difference.

“Everyone should be justly proud of their input.”

The apprentices carried out several jobs to spruce up the school’s play area. Firstly they helped lay an Astro-turf surface to create green space for playing and learning.

They also created a living wall consisting of fabric pocket holders for each year group or child to grow their own plants. In addition they set up tractor tyres to create a seating area, made a sand pit and a colourful interactive glockenspiel type instrument made from waste pipes.

The final piece to the transformation was a wall mural to disguise a large metal container, which was run as a school competition and won by Year 2 students.

The apprentices were also responsible for all aspects of the project: design, ordering, construction, financial control and Health & Safety.