Gainsborough Adventure Playground

Gainsborough Adventure Playground (GAPA) is a unique playground that offers open access play opportunities in Lincolnshire.

This play provision is an example of:

  • Organised clubs and activities
  • Free / unstructured play
  • Natural play
  • Town
  • Open access
  • Sessions that require pre-booking.


Gainsborough Adventure Playground offers good opportunities for outdoors play with a play building and two and half acres of green field land. The playground is registered with OFSTED and had an ‘excellent’ inspection in August 2007.

Activities such as music, games, sports, cooking and arts and crafts are facilitated by playworkers with the children’s consultation. In the holidays children are taken on trips, visiting places such as farms, zoos and parks.

The playworkers try to keep the cost to a minimum and work to ensure all children are included. The site has fixed play equipment, a nature trail, a large hedgerow, which is ideal for den making or just hiding in. There is long grass, a football area and a large field to run and play on. Meals are offered during the evening sessions and the holidays costing 60p, and a tuck shop offers a range of snacks and drinks.


There is a good range of equipment and resources on offer to the children and the playworkers are able to adapt and change activities to suit the needs of the children on site. The staff have a good relationship with the children and take time to understand their particular needs and abilities. They encourage children to push themselves and try new things.

The playgroups aims to provide safe, stimulating and challenging play opportunities to enable children to develop individually and appropriately.

Members of staff discuss their children’s needs with parents to ensure that young children benefit from and experience familiar home routines, helping them to feel safe and secure. Children have opportunities to develop their creative skills and to use freedom of expression during imaginary play, particularly when playing freely outside when example building dens or taking part in other activities.

Children receive praise and encouragement from staff, building their confidence and self-esteem. Members of staff offer support and encouragement for children to try new experiences, gain confidence, take risks and push boundaries. Child-led play experiences are encouraged both indoors and outdoors in all types of weather and throughout the seasons.

Children and community involvement

Children are encouraged to speak out and have an opinion. This is done informally, by building up good relationships with the children and through activities and regular children’s meetings. Feedback is given to children to show how their views have affected decision-making. Questionnaires are sometimes used which the children design but this is done with caution, as they do not want to exclude children with literacy problems. Last summer the children came up with a list of questions at the end of the playscheme to ask each other and the workers filmed the feedback.

Families are encouraged to come along and be involved, including on the fun days and celebrations that take place on the site. Free training is offered to the local community including first aid, health and hygiene, Bookstart, cooking, art and craft. This is usually free to parents and carers through the local family learning scheme. There are volunteering opportunities for the community and workshops. On the last Wednesday of the month the staff run a group called the funding circle, which looks at local fundraising opportunities. The group is made up of parents and last year raised over £2,000.

Staff, polices and funding

There are 12 members of staff, all have either NVQ level 3 or are working towards a NVQ level 3 in playwork, child care (CCLD), or administration. The play development worker is currently studying for a NVQ level 4 in CCLD and they have an apprentice who is studying for his NVQ level 2 in playwork. A behavioural policy is in place and the children have a set of rules that everyone must adhere to. This policy aims to provide a safe and secure environment for all playground users.

Core funding is received from Sure Start, West Lindsey District Council and Lincolnshire County Council. Approximately 37 percent of their own income is generated through small grants, running a community café, playgroup and other enterprising activities. The core funding is due to end at the end of March 2009 so the workers have been focused on finding ways to fund the service. Quarterly monitoring is provided to all the funders.

Gainsborough Adventure Playground has been involved in the writing of the play strategy with the local council and the playground is written into the plan. Good relations are maintained with the local council. They have two representatives from the council on their committee, one councillor and one officer.

In terms of evaluation, they have a business plan, which is reviewed quarterly. They have also been involved in a health check and an investment readiness programme. The findings and recommendations from these formed the basis of the business plan. The staff team regularly monitor the service through team meetings and through one to one supervision sessions.

Further information

GAPA is free to registered children and young people from birth to 14 years. There is an extensive activity programme during school holidays as well as year-round after-school play provision. During the day a service is run for children from birth to 4 years old and their parents and carers. There is also a playgroup for children between two and five, which is currently running three mornings per week. The playgroup aims to provide safe, stimulating, challenging play opportunities to enable children to develop individually and appropriately. The open access provision is free but there is a £5 charge for playgroup sessions for children aged between two and five years old.
Opening times for the open access service are:

Term time: Monday – Friday, 3pm – 6pm
Holidays: Monday – Friday, 10am – 4pm
Saturday: 10am – 2pm

On average, between 20- 40 children attend the sessions. Children under five are welcome as long as they are accompanied and constantly supervised by a responsible adult.


Lisa Pinkney
Playground Manager
Riseholme Road
Lincolnshire DN21 1NL

Tel: 0142 761 7165

Page updated August 2008