New playground for Porty pupils better by design

Portlethen pupils in the playground as it is now.
Portlethen pupils in the playground as it is now.

Students at Robert Gordon University (RGU) are embarking on a project which will see them design a new playground for Portlethen Primary.

Over the next three months, the third year students will work with pupils at the school to capture their ideas for the playground, before presenting five different designs and models for the children, parents and staff to choose from.

The scheme is part of the school’s newly-launched Playground Improvement Project, which aims to raise funds for the development of the outdoor area.

It all came about after parent partnership member and RGU lecturer Nicola Brownie suggested the university might be able to assist with the design.

Architecture lecturer Dr Quazi Mahtab Zaman, who specialises in child-centred urban design, said: “It was perfect timing when Nicola asked if we would be interested in being involved and it will be a great project for the students to work on.

‘‘ They will take on board all the suggestions that are submitted and try to incorporate as many elements as possible to ensure that all the children feel a sense of ownership over the final design.

“The project is based on the ethos of the community as an extended classroom, which allows the students to undertake their learning outwith the traditional structures, and also ties in with the university’s interest in using its knowledge and skills to the benefit of the local area.”

Sandra McKechnie, depute head at Portlethen Primary, said: “We are delighted to be working with the students and really jumped at the chance to have them involved.

“I look at the space, which is a very large area, and don’t really know what to do with it.

‘‘We are very excited to see what the students come up with after talking to the children and seeing the playground themselves.

“This is a unique opportunity for the pupils, because they are very much partners in this process and will get to learn about design and fund-raising in a way that is very relevant to real life.

“We are hoping that we will be able to raise enough funding to complete the project within a couple of years, so that the students will be able to come back and see their design brought to life.”

The school is currently investigating various grant and fund-raising options in order to make the project viable.

Mrs McKechnie added: “We would very much welcome any offers of sponsorship from local companies who could help us make this project a reality.”