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 Tuesday, 14 January, 2003, 11:00 GMT
Play scheme cuts school vandalism
The playground has given children something to do
The playground has given children something to do
Reports of vandalism at a school in a deprived area of north Wales have fallen after a playground was opened for children to use out of hours.

Teachers at Rhosymedre Junior school in Plas Madoc near Wrexham decided to keep the area accessible in an attempt to keep young people occupied.

In August 1999 I walked into the school - newly appointed, and I had nine broken windows and this summer I didn't have any damage

Headteacher Roz Harrison

The estate has been dogged by problems and has been listed by the Welsh Assembly Government as the third most deprived area in Wales.

Headteacher Roz Harrison, who has been at the school for three years, said destructive behaviour was a real problem.

"In August 1999 I walked into the school - newly appointed, and I had nine broken windows and this summer I didn't have any damage," she said.

Mrs Harrison has taken a radical approach to the problem and thanks to a 22,000 grant has made the pupils take some ownership of the school.

Plas Madoc is a recognised deprived area
Plas Madoc is a recognised deprived area

An obstacle playground has been built, which can be used what ever the weather, and Mrs Harrison has kept the playground open outside school hours.

"I don't lock the school gates and the children can play on the equipment out of school.

"I suspect it has cut down on vandalism and nuisance because we have got a massive amount of green space so it's a safe place to play.

"The children understand that it's our school now, not my school, and the children don't want their little brother or sister, if they're older, hurting themselves," she said.

The children take turns on the playground, which can be used by 25 pupils at a time and Mrs Harrison said it has had huge benefits.

The key issue is ownership and when the children have frustrations they need to let off steam

North Wales AM Eleanor Burnham

"If you're a bit fed up and tired it's a good opportunity to let off some steam.

"I have also introduced a garden in the school's courtyard and we'll grow vegetables in there because some of the children may not have gardens at home," she said.

Ten-year-old Alex Truby said the obstacle course was just what the estate needed.

"There isn't a park near so it's good that Miss keeps the playground open for us.

"Now and then when you've got a lot of energy and you want to burn it off you can go on the playground," he said.

The school has also won the support of members of the Welsh Assembly.

North Wales AM Eleanor Burnham said the play area has made a huge difference to the children from Plas Madoc.

"The key issue is ownership and when the children have frustrations they need to let off steam.

"A lot of thought goes into everything Roz does, they are only small, subtle improvements and yet it can make a huge difference," she said.


More from north east Wales
See also:

05 Jun 02 | Science/Nature
29 Jul 02 | Education
03 Jul 01 | Education
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