Hannah More Primary School’s new playground pioneers natural play

an overview photo of a natural wooden school playground timber tangle feature

TouchWood engaged with Hannah More Primary School in central Bristol to redevelop their play area. The inner-city school has a large outdoor space, which is hugely beneficial to the many children from disadvantaged backgrounds. Often these children live in flats that are sometimes overcrowded and offer very limited access to outside space. However, the school’s outdoor space needed more play elements to be added to allow the children to make the best use and benefit from it.

With generous support from Margot Cooper, CEO of local business Limbs and Things, TouchWood was commissioned to design and create a new playground for the school.

We initially held a ‘Design for Real’ workshop with staff, students and governors. These workshops are unique to TouchWood and they help to gain an insight into how the current outdoor space is used and explore ways in which it could be developed for a better quality play and learning experience.

school students sitting on a wooden storytelling throne play equipment Children sitting and playing on a timber tangle climber play feature

The TouchWood design team established from the workshop that the school would benefit from:

  • areas for social play
  • opportunities to swing
  • covered outdoor space for activities and learning
  • play features offering opportunities for relaxing and quiet reflection
  • high up space for roleplay and views of the surrounding play space


Following the workshop, TouchWood proceeded to design and build a play space to meet the needs of the students. We created:

  • a spacious wooden shelter for all-weather outdoor learning and activities
  • a new storytelling area, with a cauldron firepit, large storytelling chair and wooden logs to be used as seating or balance beams
  • a den-making area with wooden loose parts for children to explore their own creativity
  • new basket swings and sky-gazing hammocks to encourage children to connect with the natural world
  • an area for nature investigation, including a wooden magnifying post, ant farm and bee hotel


School pupils sitting on a bench under an outside classroom canopy a girl drawing on a board under a canopy of an outdoor classroom.

These areas are all linked together by a new gravel path to open up the space for year-round use.

The play area has been incredibly popular with the students, staff and parents. Ruth Cochran, Community Consultant for the school said: “We all love the new play areas that TouchWood has created. As a school that welcomes children with very varying levels of English, the universal language of play, and the accessibility it offers, are especially important. This is something that the TouchWood team understood so well.”

TouchWood staff, along with Margot Cooper from Limbs and Things, were delighted to attend a special assembly at the school to celebrate, with children from each class presenting handmade thank you cards.

The transformation of the playground at Hannah More Primary School has changed the way children engage with their outdoor environment. The sensory experiences, the opportunity to engage in imaginative play and the chance to explore natural materials all contribute to a richer, more fulfilling playtime.

Ready to enhance your school’s outdoor space? Work with our expert team to create a natural school playground and see the positive impact on your students’ wellbeing and learning. Contact us to schedule a consultation and discover how we can transform your school’s play area.

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Our concept design team can quickly help you explore pricing, themes and play value on a five minute call – submit your email address and our team will get in touch. Our designs are bespoke and no two are the same. Whether you’re a school or a world class leisure park, we can quickly come up with some ideas to support your project.