School raises £10k to turn road outside into playground

Chisenhale pupils in a test event for the potential outdoor playground. Pic: Chris Burman

A fund set up by parents and teachers at a Bow primary school has raised almost £10,000 to turn a section of the road located outside the school into an extra playground.

The playground would be placed outside Chisenhale Primary School between the Chisenhale Road and Vivian Road junction and would allow longer playtime and PE lessons.

The school is in the process of securing permission from Tower Hamlets Council, which has partially funded the scheme. It is also in the process of developing an arts programme with local organisations, as well as finalising detailed designs for the flexible community space, which includes plans for site security.

In a statement Chisenhale Parent Teacher Association told Eastlondonlines: “This is to turn a little used road space into a pop-up playground, an outdoor classroom and a community space for artwork, work shops and Covid-safe performances.”

The money raised will be spent on making of the playground, from the labour to help with installation to planters and seating. 

The school told ELL that the plan would turn a little used road space into a playground, an outdoor classroom and a community space for artwork workshops and, for the time being, Covid-safe performances. The playground will be permanent but for fine weather use only.  The scheme will lead to the closure of the area to all but emergency vehicles.

Rob Hughes, a parent governor who has been involved from the start said: “When the kids went back to school in June they were in their ‘bubbles’, forced to play in smaller areas of the already small playground….We want to show that the world doesn’t stop when you lose 11 parking spaces”.

A computer generated image showing how the scheme could look. Pic: Chris Burman

However not all parents are happy with the plans. One parent at the school who asked to remain anonymous, told ELL: “My only issue with this it is blocking a road that we travel down on a daily basis meaning we need to find another route. Also blocking off a road can create traffic in the surrounding area but hopefully over time, the positive to this scheme will outweigh the negatives.” Other parents are said to feel aspects of the scheme are “unsafe” and “not secure enough” for their children. 

Local organisations such as Chisenhale Gallery, Chisenhale Dance Space and Chisenhale Studio (Heat-Island) support the idea and have donated large sums.

  Pupils at Chisenhale Primary making the most of the outdoor space during the test run. Pic: Chris Burman

Headteacher Sharon Taylor-Sezgin told ELL: “The pop-up playground has been supported by the local and school community and we hope that it will be a way of strengthening links with Chisenhale gallery, Chisenhale Dance Space and Chisenhale Studio, which are all just across the road from us and would also be able to benefit from the space, as well as increasing space for play and PE lessons.”

Sophie Timson, a member of the PTA also backed the scheme: “It’s been a tough year for everyone, the school and wider community have been physically separated.  We wanted the project to bring everyone together around a shared space. It’s a great opportunity to transform the street, prioritise people and add some colour and excitement. The kids especially are fascinated and excited by the prospect of taking over the street to play in!”  

One student, Evie, who is 10 years old, from year five said: “The Chisenhale play space is very exciting! It will increase the number of children who can play at our school and it means there will be less cars, which means less pollution, which means a better environment.”

Parent Kirsty Bishop 28, who’s also a primary school teacher, told ELL: “I think it’s a wonderful idea to create a pop-up playground not only will we see our children smile again but it gives them a chance to explore and socialise with other children.”

“Personally, my little boy, Jamal who is six years old, loves the idea of the playground expanding it will give him a chance to express himself better as there will be more space to run…. In the long run extra space can create different learning experiences so my family and I are 100% backing this scheme/fund.”

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