Hartlepool school's £400,000 outdoor learning space set to benefit the wider community

A Hartlepool school for students with special educational and physical needs has celebrated the completion of a new outdoor space for the whole community to enjoy.

Monday, 11th July 2022, 11:30 am
Updated Monday, 11th July 2022, 11:30 am

Catcote Academy, in Catcote Road, raised more than £440,000 to create its new Outdoor Fitness and Learning Zone (OFALZ) which includes a wheelchair friendly track, outdoor gym equipment, sensory play and environmental learning areas.

The school’s annual summer fair on Saturday, July 16, will mark the official opening of the new outdoor space which is also open to bookings by outside groups across the town.

Catcote Academy head teacher Lisa Greig said: “We are really proud of what has been achieved with this fantastic area that everyone can benefit from.

Catcote Academy pupils make use of the new outdoor area.

“Whether it is local scout groups, holistic therapists, private nurseries or even fitness boot camp leaders, we believe our Outdoor Fitness and Learning Zone is suitable for a wide-range of people across our town.

“That was the aim when we went through the process of planning and building the zone.

"Yes, we wanted it to help us deliver a high quality, relevant and balanced education for all our students, but we also wanted to open it up for the benefit of the community as a whole.”

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Catcote Academy pupil Talia Foster.

The OFALZ has been specifically designed for children, young people and adults with learning difficulties and disabilities in mind.

It also has a rough track that can be used by more able runners, an assault course and two junior football pitches, and an outdoor classroom area complete with fire pit ideal for forest school and Duke of Edinburgh Awards.

But Catcote Academy also wants parents, friends and local groups to know they can use it too.

The school successfully raised £443,000 required to build it through funding from Sport England, Wolfson Foundation, Bailey Thomas Trust, Garfield Weston and the James Knott Trust.

The new outdoor learning area includes a fire pit.

Its summer fair will feature entertainment including face painting, stilt walkers, live music and a DJ plus the chance to make bird feeders, go on scavenger hunts, listen to story-telling and toast marshmallows.

Lisa added: “It should be a fantastic day and it will be nice for the people of Hartlepool to come along and see what we are about at Catcote Academy. Hopefully the sun will shine too.”

Catcote’s summer fair is on between 11am-2pm.