CHILDREN at two Oxfordshire schools will be able to time their fun with a solar clock and even take lessons outside thanks to new play areas.

Tower Hill Primary School in Witney and Watlington Primary School spent a combined total of £12,000 on the facilities, which have been built by Playforce.

Children at Tower Hill, in Moor Avenue, now have a climbing wall, climbing frame, solar powered clock and other equipment to play with, at a cost of about £8,000.

Headteacher Tracey Smith said: “We had big monkey bars that were quite old and high, and really they were only appropriate for older children.

“When I got here in September there was a rule that only the older children could play on it, so the idea was to become more inclusive so that all the children could access the play equipment.”

Ms Smith said she had used Playforce at her previous school, Bladon Primary School, and said the new equipment had proved popular with the pupils.

She added: “There are always lots of children playing on it now, and to avoid queuing we have a rota so different children use it on different days.

“It helps to get them active and sporty and we have specifically chosen activities that will also be good for their work.

“We have a solar powered stopwatch so children can time themselves doing circuits on.

“It is also good for their maths skills.”

As part of the project, the school also took down a ‘Jubilee Wall’, built on the Queen’s Silver Jubilee in 1977, and replaced it with a ‘Jubilee Bench’.

Ms Smith said: “It was a big concrete block and I heard all sorts of stories about children injuring themselves over the years – parents showed me their injuries from it.

“But we had quite a lot of opposition from children and parents so we had a vote.

“All the children, teachers, staff and parents took part and we eventually found out that it was more popular for it to be taken down than for it to stay.”

The new equipment was installed in December.

Watlington Primary School, in Love Lane, has spent about £22,000 improving its play facilities in the last year, including £4,000 worth of Playforce equipment.

A new post-mounted magnetic whiteboard, teepee, bridge, balance beam, step posts and bars have been installed.

Deputy headteacher Andrew Markham said: “We have got a very good outdoor area but we needed more for the children to take risks on. There wasn’t anything they could really get their teeth into before.

“But it is also about taking the curriculum outside, so that as well as playing they are also learning maths and science.

“The new equipment is fantastic and it has opened up new types of play and new opportunities for the children which they have not had before.”