Brookfield SEN School's Amazing Inclusive Tower Scheme

Case Study

Brookfields School – Specialist SEN School, Reading

This amazing school tower scheme was bespoke built to meet the needs and requests of the school and their children, and we are immensely proud to show off our work here.

Part of West Berkshire Local Authority, Brookfields School is a beautiful place to learn, offering personalised education and support to pupils with learning difficulties and additional needs.

Providing a diverse range of professional services such as autism and behavioural support and specialist inclusion guidance, the school embody their mantra that ‘every child matters’, and this is something that resonates with us as a company, both on business and personal levels.

It was an absolute pleasure to be asked to be involved with this project, as inclusive play is something that is very close to our hearts and an area that we have tons of experience in. We believe that every child should feel included when it comes to play and we were eager to create something that not only ticked all boxes but a scheme that was completely tailormade to their requirements.

After a lengthy consultation to ensure that we had everything that we needed to design their new play area, it was clear that a tower system with integrated modules was the best approach for them. It was from here that the Brookfield Tower System was conceived.

The Brookfields Tower System

The Brookfields Tower System consists of four mammoth towers and an elevated gazebo, interconnecting with a wheelchair accessible ramp. The unit itself is inclusive and is aimed at children aged seven and upwards of all abilities. Offering challenging elements that aim to help children develop progressively, nurturing them to become more confident over time and increase their levels of risk taking.

The towers are all manufactured from our pressure treated timber and for the most part, were constructed on site by our very talented joiners. Each of the four towers has a beautiful Cedar shingle roof which were expertly crafted here in our workshop in York. Once finished, these were transported down in sections, ready to be assembled on site in Reading. The actual rooves are so big that we had to lift each on with a cherry picker!

We incorporated the school’s new tower system into their existing play area, making use of some of the wetpour rubber surfacing that was already in place. We then increased this to accommodate the main three towers, named the ‘Brookfields Tower’. The rest of the system then runs alongside the school’s playground, making the whole unit accessible at all times of the year.

Main Observation Tower

This unit includes a bespoke double width slide which is fully enclosed on both sides, ensuring safety for children at all times. This slide runs from the heart of the main tower within the internal structure so it is mostly hidden from the outside looking in; it’s pretty steep and really gets the speed up! In our opinion, it’s one of the most exciting slides we have ever built, so much so that the entire team just had to test it out! Yes, we’re big kids at heart!

The 2.4m high observation tower has a balcony circulating the centre of it, which gives an incredible view over the school and its playground. We have used a large Perspex window on the front of the tower, which enables children to look inside the structure and down onto the people below that are descending sliding. This particular window also helps to draw in light into the centre of the tower, which of course, is most welcome on both sunny and overcast days.

To access the main tower, we have integrated a fantastic accessible zig zag staircase which ascends to the top, with access to all levels. Safety is paramount here, so the use of slip resistant decking on all of the tower platforms and steps minimises the risk of slips and trips.

If children don’t fancy using the stairs, then they can brave the scramble net, which can accommodate multiple children at one time due to its extensive width. Children can either take it in turns traversing from one side to another, or they could race each other; the choice is theirs!

For those that just want to sit and relax, there are sheltered seating areas below the tower, making it the perfect socialising and resting space.

Look-out Tower

The second tower, aptly named the ‘Look-out Tower’, is accessed via a sloping decked walkway, which increased the height of the second tower to an impressive 3m!

From this tower you can dismount and slide down to the ground using the fireman’s pole, or continue down the steps to the next part of the adventure as normal.

Underneath the Look-out Tower is an accessible platform with a covered seating area, again for relaxation or socialising with friends.

Century Tower

You can access the third tower straight from the main observation tower, or come from any other direction. This tower will probably become one of the most used parts of the development as it is the tower that you have to pass through when walking between other parts of the tower.

Links from here also include The Clatter Bridge to the main observation tower, which is a sloped clatter bridge with timber handrails. Hold on tight because this is a bumpy route!

There are slip resistant walkways and steps to both Look-out Tower heading upwards and the Accessible Tower heading downwards, so children can walk between each one with no worry.

Accessible Tower

The Accessible Tower is the last tower, and raised 600mm from the ground. It has an accessible ramp leading straight onto the playground or on up to the Elevated Gazebo, so it is fully accessible from all angles.

This tower also has a secondary ramp leading up from the playground which we have called the ‘pull up ramp’. This allows children with upper body strength to pull themselves up the ramp using the ropes and hand grips on either side to get into the tower.

Elevated Gazebo

The 5m Gazebo is an additional part of the Brookfields Tower system. It is an area for quiet time and reflecting, or a place to enjoy lunchtime. They can also use the sheltered area for outdoor lessons, which can be incredibly enriching for children, especially if the weather is good! This area includes bench seating around the perimeter and has balustrade sides which is in keeping with the rest of the development.