BESA in conversation with our MD, Simon Winfield
The concept of active learning has now been accepted as helping students learn. How does Red Monkey’s equipment contribute to children’s learning?
We work with schools and education professionals to understand what they want and how we can best deliver a solution. This enables us to develop new and existing products to meet the needs of teachers, and help our products provide active learning and fun. If a piece of equipment does not incorporate activity for the child they will not engage with it, which is why we incorporate lots of detail to meet these requirements, as well as build larger pieces of play equipment to ensure children are physically active, too. We consider the requirements of the curriculum and work both internally and externally to ensure we accommodate the key components as much as possible in our products.
Is it difficult to convince schools and academies of the benefits of engaging outdoors equipment on children?
Outdoor learning and play is a key constituent in all schools, so we do not often encounter a need to convince people of the benefits of outdoor play and learning, or our equipment. What we offer is a comprehensive service to ensure we work with the schools to maximise the space, budgets and learning priorities that they have. We do this through our design consultants, who are visiting schools every day and have a vast knowledge and experience of what works with the current trends. This ensures that our customers benefit from some of the best playground design skills in the UK.
With childhood obesity being a recurrent topic in the media, how is Red Monkey playing a role in encouraging children to move and be active?
All of our products incorporate some form of physical activity and we continue to develop this theme in our product development. We have always been committed to promoting and encouraging children to be involved in physical activity; while we do this through our products, we also actively support community initiatives that help deliver this activity for primary school children. These include sponsorship of a girls’ football team, being a major supporter of Leicester Riders Professional Basketball Team and Leicestershire County Cricket Club, enabling them to deliver activities to primary school children. We also support the NHS’ Move It Boom project, which targets helping primary school children become more active.
Red Monkey is used to working with schools with a high number of children with special educational needs. How much, and in what ways, does the equipment need to be redesigned?
We have developed a strength in our offering for children with special educational needs by working with a number of schools. We recently worked with Ashmount School in Loughborough, carefully listening to what the teachers wished to achieve and then coming up with a range of ideas and suggestions. This incorporated redesigning some of our existing products to provide additional accessibility for the children, as well as making them more interactive. We used our skills and machinery to produce products with more tactile features, as well as colour and fun aspects, and the school is delighted with the outcome.