PLAYING on a beach, trampoline and mud kitchen are inspiring children to become more confident and creative.

Manor Park Primary School and Nursery has been assessed by Outdoor Play and Learning (OPAL), and received their Platinum Award, the highest achievement.

The Knutsford school is the first in the area to gain this award.

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Research shows that children's mental and physical health is getting worse and that great play can make it better.

OPAL wants every school to produce a plan to show how they will ensure that every child has at least one hour's outstanding outdoor play every school day.

Headteacher Simon Cotterill said: “I am so proud of our school community for working together and making our play provision so much fun and so exciting for all of our children.

“The opportunities at Manor Park are second to none.

Knutsford Guardian: Children have an incredible outdoor play areas including an outdoor mud kitchenChildren have an incredible outdoor play areas including an outdoor mud kitchen (Image: Manor Park Primary School and Nursery)

“This builds on all of the outstanding work the school has completed with its curriculum and the phenomenal academic outcomes that we achieve each and every year.”

Play allows children to be creative, make decisions and manage risk.

Having fun and gives pupils many opportunities to develop their physical, social and communication skills and is invaluable to their emotional wellbeing.

The play process also enables children to create an infinite variety of scenarios where these skills can be experimented with, tested and honed.

By allowing them to make their own choices, Manor Park pupils are free to roll down the bank, build dens and create vehicles out of crates.

Staff say children’s decision making skills are now so much more enhanced.

They have noticed it has encouraged their resilience when things haven’t always worked out.

There is more co-operation between different year groups and many children have become adapt at finding their own solutions to problems.

Throughout the course of the programme, play provision has regularly been enhanced.

Facilities now include a beach, a state-of-the-art beach hut, a full-sized trampoline, sunken into the ground, scooters and other wheeled equipment, a woodland area, mud kitchen, quiet zone and opportunities for water play, bubbles, digging and tree climbing.

Mr Cotterill said: “Due to the fantastic provision available, Manor Park has hosted around 20 schools from various areas of Cheshire, many of whom have taken up the programme themselves.

“If you would like to experience our provision for yourselves, look out for our next community open day where you will be very welcome.”