Design a successful school playground

School Playground Design Ideas

Pupils running out on a playground during recess

How to Design School Playgrounds

Empty schoolyards with no equipment or with equipment that is not being used is a problem for busy school staff - school age children learn through play and it is important to provide them with facilities that challenge and excite them.

As there is a broad age range of children to cater for it is important to choose age-appropriate playground equipment in your design to engage children - a fun filled play area will impact children's development and help their behaviour and learning skills in the classroom.

The Study ofPlay

School Playground Planning

Having a school playground encourages physical activity, social interaction and imaginative play. To ensure your play equipment is age appropriate we have compiled some of our best design ideas for school playgrounds - we have broken these down in to three areas -

  • Primary / National School

  • Secondary School

  • Special Needs

School age children seem able to do and learn almost anything - they master basic co-ordination skills such as running, climbing and balancing but because their range of skills is so broad it is important to provide a wide range of challenges when planning and designing your school playground.

School playground with children swinging on a five way swing

1. Primary School Playground Ideas

In national school, children begin to have a better understanding of the world around them. Encourage group play and movement through play solutions >>
Contact your local playground expert
school children playing on a wooden climbing trail

Natural Playgrounds

A natural play area within a school yard is often the perfect balance to the buildings and infrastructure needed in a school yard - a natural area can provide a space for children to discover more natural materials and it can be a way to bring nature in to an urban area. Our timber agility trails are perfect units for schools as they come in various sizes and can be used during PE classes.

school girl sitting in a tube on a play structure for primary schools

Play Systems

Choose from our range of school-age towers when planning your national school playground - these towers are sure to engage and challenge children. It is so important to keep children engaged and involved in the play and towers are a simple way to enhance your play area while providing a space for lots of children to enjoy together.

Clever Climbing

Another way to engage school aged children is to build a competitive, safe and activity driven play area and a great way to achieve this is to include climbing equipment. Climbing is a great activity for school aged children and it will help them develop physical strength while also helping with balance and co-ordination. Our monkey climbing trails or dynamic climbing equipment are units to consider when planning your school playground.

2. Secondary School Playground Ideas

By secondary school, most young people will have outgrown conventional play equipment and their preference will be for team play and fitness. Try integrating some of the below to encourage physical activity :
Contact your local playground expert
children playing on a climbing dome for secondary schools.

Climbing Structures

Older children will look for equipment that is slightly different to what their younger siblings might be using and this is where our Galaxy and BLOQX range come in! While still play equipment these ranges are designed with older children in mind and will encourage older children to be active and help build their muscle strength and co-ordination while also providing a social space to meet friends and make new ones!

children in secondary school playing football on a multisport court

Multi-Use Games Area

A Multi-Use Games Area (MUGA) is a must for secondary school yards! By providing an area for ball sports in a school yard children will have an area to play team sports and be competitive and active during breaks while also providing a great space for organising games during PE classes.

tweens playing on a giant climbing dome on a playground

Tweens do Love to Play

To motivate tweens to be physically active in the school playground, it is important to design play areas that include everyone - include areas for social play but also think about having quiet areas within the yard so that everyone can be involved and included.

If you would like to learn more about how to motivate tweens to play read our whitepaper Tweens love Playgrounds.

3. Special Needs

The main design features of an amazing playground for all abilities and all ages are:
a young boy accessing playground via a ramp structure.

1. Accessibility - Can I get there?

The first thing to consider is accessibility to and from the playground - plan for easy access to transportation, school toilets and ensure your pathways are wide enough to accommodate wheelchairs or walking aids. Ensure your safety surfacing is accessible so all children can be involved in the play.

a boy and a girl playing on a inclusive swing

2. Inclusive - Can I stay?

Next, ensure everyone feels comfortable in the school playground, especially children with sensory or physical challenges. Children have differing needs when socialising and it is important to consider rest areas and tables when designing your school play area for children and carers - creating a layout with a transparent line of sight allows for easy supervision and contact.

a woman taking a picture of boy in a wheel chair playing on a playground

3. Usability - Can I Play?

Lastly, getting around the play area is hugely important. So, ensure users with mobility difficulties can get around the playground and be involved in the play. Include play equipment that provides play from all sides and includes everyone regardless of their abilities.

Also ensure that ground and elevated level play activities are accessible and usable for users with mobility difficulties - this could be with a ramp or accessible surfacing.

Let's Plan your School Playground Together

It's a Smart Move

Sketch of Schoolyard

Plan and Work With Us

Transforming a school yard into an amazing play space is what we love to do! We are happy to meet with you on site to discuss your needs and requirements - following this meeting we will prepare detailed costings and plans for your area.

Our design team in Galway have designed hundreds of school playgrounds with various budgets and space - we can help advise on equipment and surfacing and provide detailed plans to help you get support for your play area. Why not download our playground planning checklist to learn more tips and tricks.

The process of working with us

1. Free Design Consultation

First, fill out the form to book a free consultation with one of our school playground experts. We will follow up with a call or an email within 1-2 business days.

We will discuss your requirements, site and budget during the visit and following this we will prepare a quote and plan for your school.

Alternatively you can contact our Galway office to book a consultation by calling 091 704 844 or [email protected]

2. School Playground Design Plans

During or after our meeting, you will receive our initial school playground plans and proposal with our recommendations and costings. If needed we can change this and offer alternatives until you are happy the proposed equipment meets your specification.

3. Installation and After Sales

Lastly, once we have agreed upon the right solution for you, our installation teams will transform your outdoor yard in to a safe, fun and engaging space for all to enjoy. We will guide you through maintaining your playground, inspections and after care to ensure your school playground is maintained and meets safety standards.

4. Safety

At KOMPAN, we always prioritise safety to ensure a safe environment for pupils to explore and have fun. When you engage and commit to working with us, we will ensure all safety standards for Ireland are adhered to. To learn more about safety standards and guidelines read more on

Get in touch with us today

Please fill in your contact details and we will get back to you as soon as possible.

Want to see other school cases?

An aerial view of a school playground with fitness and ball game area

Segbroek College, Netherlands


Customer Case

Children playing on a rope climbing structure at school in Munich

Elementary School Leibengerstrasse, Germany

nature playground at the forest of Westminster School in Atlanta

Westminster School, United States

space net at Copenhagen International School

Copenhagen International School, Denmark

pupils playing and swinging at Riverside Intermediate School

Riverside Intermediate School, United States

teens playing on GALAXY play system at Hældager School

Hældager School, Denmark

An aerial view of a children's school playground with wet pour surfacing

Corpus Christi Primary School, Scotland

Children at North Tampa Christian Academy running towards wooden play tower

North Tampa Christian Academy, United States