Eling Infant School and nursery is an old, Victorian building, with no grass areas, only concrete playgrounds. The school has done a lot with the space and funds available, including money raised by the children and parents. We have installed play equipment, a garden area with plants, a pond, we have painted some of the walls and the floor surfaces. The surface around the play equipment desperately needs upgrading and expanding to provide a better, larger, safer space for the children to play and have fun in.
The climbing frame and obstacle course is used heavily every day by all the children from 2 years old up to 7 years old and is very well-loved. The children really need a safe area in the school where they can play, exercise, learn to use their bodies, and burn off energy safely. At the moment the surface is broken and pitted with holes and it's very important that we can improve the safety of the area as well as provide long-lasting play equipment.
Eling is a small school of 145 pupils, within the 4th most deprived catchment area in the New Forest. 13% of children who attend our school have Special Educational Needs compared with the average for Hampshire which is just 2.7%. After such a difficult year for all of us, it is vital that we provide a safe and welcoming outdoor space for our children to play together and enjoy the equipment while being able to interact with their friends and teachers.
With the ongoing cuts to all school budgets, it is hard for the school to find the money for this kind of larger improvement. We already involve many volunteers from the local area in the life of the school, from people coming in to hear reading, talking to the children about their jobs and passions, and raising money to improve the environment of the school, but this funding is not enough to make the large scale changes we need for our children. This project will have a huge, long-lasting, and positive effect on all the children in the school for many years to come.