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 unused play equipment can be burdensome for a principal. Successful schoolyard design requires specific playground equipment, play activities, and play value for different age groups. Therefore, choosing age-appropriate playground equipment is the key to an engaging and buzzing schoolyard design that will impact your pupils' overall well-being, classroom performance, and learning skills. And all it takes is a little bit of clever planning.

The Study ofPlay

School Playground Planning

School playground planning holds immense potential for promoting physical activity, fostering social interactions, and encouraging imaginative play. To ensure you choose age-appropriate equipment for your school, we have compiled some of our best design ideas for school playgrounds: We categorise play activities based on the study of play and recommended playground solutions within the following categories:

  • Primary School

  • Secondary School

  • Special Needs

School-age children seem able to do and learn almost anything. They master basic coordination skills such as running, climbing, and balancing; however, because their range of skills is so broad, offering skill development within a wide range of challenges is essential when planning a school playground.

School playground with children swinging on a five way swing

1. Primary School Playground Ideas

In primary school, children begin to view the world with more understanding. Encourage healthy competition, group play, and physical growth with these brilliant playground solutions:
Contact your local playground expert
school children playing on a wooden climbing trail

Natural Playgrounds

Integrating a natural playground in school playgrounds is perfect for encouraging discovery and contact with natural materials. It is especially a great way to bring nature to schools in urban environments. Combine wooden multi-play structures with climbing trails to build speed and balance while encouraging social interaction and group experiences that foster cooperation and grow friendships.

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

Play Systems

Choose more challenging play towers for your primary school playground. Go for School-age Towers to engage children in developmental play activities during the school day. Each play system caters to several cognitive, social-emotional, creative, and physical benefits depending on the specific play activities and age group. A thrilling play activity such as the Cliff Rider is also hugely attractive to school-age children from 6+.

2. Secondary School Playground Ideas

By secondary school, most young people have outgrown conventional physical play and benefit greatly from organised team play, sports, and fitness. Integrating the following solutions is a clever move:
Contact your local playground expert
children playing on a climbing dome for secondary schools.

Climbing Structures

Go for “cool-looking” climbing structures like the GALAXY Play systems or climbing BLOQX. These play systems also allow hangout spots away from the main playground area. The fun climb, crawl, and balance through climbing structures train children’s motor skills ABC: Agility, Balance and Coordination. These motor skills are fundamental to school children's ability to navigate the world with confidence, but also their ability to sit still and concentrate.

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 playgrounds! Areas for ball games and free activities will keep pupils entertained and let off steam during recess while being physically active. You can use MUGAs as an ideal space to help the children in your school create a positive connection in their minds between having fun and an active lifestyle.

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, design play areas that accommodate performers as well as spectators and plan for activity areas away from the main playground. If you would like to learn more about the research behind how to motivate tweens' physical activity in playgrounds, read our whitepaper on the topic: 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?

Start by ensuring accessibility to the school playground and the surrounding area. Plan for easy access to transportation, school restrooms with ramps and wide pathways to and from the playground. Accessible safety surfacing around the play equipment is necessary for social play value, peer communication, and play for all.

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 for socialising and retracting, and so do caregivers. Make sure that the school playground caters for all abilities by providing shade to avoid overheating, seating and tables for a break, also for caregivers and create a layout with transparent sight lines for easy supervision and contact across the play area.

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

3. Usability - Can I Play?

Lastly, ensure users with mobility difficulties can get around the playground and reach the play equipment: Implement play equipment that provides spacious play from all sides to support diverse bodies, sizes, abilities and positions. Also, ensure that elevated level and ground level play activities are accessible and usable for users with mobility difficulties, either by a ramp structure or easy-access surfacing material.

Let's Plan your School Playground Together

It's a Smart Move

Sketch of Schoolyard

Plan and Work With Us

Bringing your school playground idea to life is what we love the most. We are happy to help you brainstorm and design your dream school playground. Whether for a slight improvement or a full-scale project, we are here to help you choose the equipment that suits your interdisciplinary needs.

Improving a playground or starting from scratch will always be governed by budget. But that's not to say that some small investments can't make a huge difference. And let's talk about that, too. There are various options to get funding for your school playground, and you can learn more about how to apply for playground grants here. If you would like to learn more about the overall planning of a playground, we have collected all tips & tricks in our playground planning checklist.

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’ll discuss your needs, challenges, and budget during the consultation. Then we'll examine how to help you best plan and build your school playground. We seek to understand the scope, listen, explore options, and strategise your project.

2. School Playground Design Sketches

During or after our meeting, you’ll receive the initial school playground sketches and proposal with our recommendations, estimated costs, and the timeline for implementation. Afterwards, we’ll refine this together and ensure that it meets your expectations.

3. Installation and Afterservice

Lastly, once we've agreed upon the right solution for you, we’ll transform your outdoor school area into a safe, engaging, fun space - for play, learning and thriving pupils. We also guide you through maintenance of the playground equipment, inspections and after-service to ensure that playground equipment is maintained and meets safety standards.

4. Safety

At KOMPAN, we always prioritise safety to provide a secure environment for pupils to explore and have fun. When you engage and commit to working with us, we will ensure all safety standards in your region comply. To learn the rules and best practices for playground safety, read the Public Playground Safety Handbook PDF here provided by the Consumer Product Safety Commission. Additionally, you can read the CPSC’s checklist of recommendations here.”

Elevate School Playgrounds with Proven Success

Reach out to KOMPAN for solutions that children adore and schools trust.

Want to see other school cases?

Acorn Park SEN School



Customer Case

nature playground at the forest of Westminster School in Atlanta

Westminster School, United States

Children playing on a rope climbing structure at school in Munich

Elementary School Leibengerstrasse, Germany

space net at Copenhagen International School

Copenhagen International School, Denmark

pupils playing and swinging at Riverside Intermediate School

Riverside Intermediate School, United States

Children at North Tampa Christian Academy running towards wooden play tower

North Tampa Christian Academy, United States

teens playing on GALAXY play system at Hældager School

Hældager School, Denmark

green frame net at Ebberup school in Denmark

Ebberup School, Denmark

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

Segbroek College, Netherlands

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

Corpus Christi Primary School, Scotland