WINNING awards was child's play for two Yorkshire Dales Schools who have both been awarded prestigious national accolades.
Dales schools awarded for learning through play
Le Cateau County Primary School in Catterick and Saltergate Infant School in Harrogate, are being hailed as shining examples of innovative education after picking up major honours for leading the way in outdoor education and play.
The Leading Aspect Awards are given to schools which are judged to have given cutting edge delivery in areas of learning that involves play and the outdoors.
Supported by the Department for Education and Skills (DfES) the awards are nationally recognized as a benchmark for best practice in schools.
Graham Shepherd, headteacher at Le Cateau School in Catterick, which achieved the award for outstanding provision in the outdoor classroom category, said: "When I came to the school nine years ago the only outdoor play provision we had was a much underused climbing frame and sandpit.
"We now have a maze, a roadway for cycles, scooters and push cars, a digging area, a herb garden, a fruit and vegetable patch, a den area, a ball skills area and a sound garden.
"This has really has become an outdoor classroom in the truest sense, there is no doubt that the curriculum range has been enhanced with learning through play. Staff now take the lessons to the pupils outside where they can improve on their physical development and early learning goals.
We are very proud to be the first school in North Yorkshire to achieve this award and we have already had a number of other schools within the County visit to view our work
Graham Shepherd - Headteacher, Le Cateau School
"We are very proud to be the first school in North Yorkshire to achieve this award and we have already had a number of other schools within the County visit to view our work."
To apply for the award, schools must endure a rigorous process of scrutiny which covers eight areas of criteria including commitment to quality, teaching and learning and sharing good practice and sharing innovative approaches with other schools.
Since being set up three years ago, over 350 schools from all over the country have achieved the award.
Catterick Teacher Lynne Down added: "It is amazing what has been achieved at the school.
"With the help of the DfES, parent power and the local garrison we have been able to give the children a fabulous facility for outdoor learning.
"Our next project will be a beach area complete with sand, boulders, seaweed, driftwood and shells."
To share their success story, Le Cateau School have been invited to showcase their achievements at the Leading Aspects celebration conference in Warwickshire on the July 4th.
Also attending the conference will be Saltergate Infant School in Harrogate who have recently received an award for their lunchtime play scheme.
The activity based 'Huff and Puff' scheme targets all the school's children, but looks in particular at supporting the vulnerable ones.
Our next project will be a beach area complete with sand, boulders, seaweed, driftwood and shells
Lynne Down - Teacher, Le Cateau School
Children rotate each day between four colour based activity zones which contain 'quirky equipment', not regulation P.E apparatus which can make less physically able children feel excluded.
The zones test children's skill bases such as hand eye co-ordination, balance, creativity and dance.
Linda Mortimer, acting headteacher said: "The scheme has been a great success, not just because we have won such a prestigious award, but in the way the children have taken to the activities.
"We have noticed a vast improvement not only in the children's physical skills but also in their self esteem, communication skills, in sharing, taking turns, patience and tolerance.
"It has definitely been a positive influence on attitudes for learning and has also reduced incidents of poor behaviour."