Contractor creates new play area after protected species found in school playground

Water vole (stock image)

A civil engineer and building contractor has created a new play facility for a Glasgow primary school while simultaneously protecting water voles which set up home at the school.

The water voles, which are a protected species in Scotland, were found in the playground of St Benedict’s Primary School in the Easterhouse area of Glasgow.

In a bid to create new play facilities which would allow pupils to continue enjoying the playground, while also ensuring the water voles were not disturbed, RJ McLeod worked in partnership with Glasgow City Council and its ecological specialists to map the water vole burrows and identify which areas of the playground could be used by the children.

The Glasgow-based firm created an eco-friendly obstacle course made from recycled tyres, large pipes, timber and other materials. An area prone to water logging within the school grounds was also addressed. To further enhance the space available to pupils, in conjunction with Sweco, RJ McLeod provided mobile white boards to assist with outdoor learning as well as the delivery of civil engineering career events for the older pupils.

Geraldine Parkinson, headteacher of St Benedict’s Primary School, said, “Coming from our whole school ‘learning circles’, the children voted for different games and activities for the playground – with the most popular choice being an obstacle course. How fortuitous when RJ McLeod, working in the local area, called to offer their services. The design process, guided by the children and led by the engineers resulted in our obstacle course being embedded within the grass area of the school. Its popularity necessitates a teacher’s favourite – a timetable!”

Christina McKitrick, CSR Manager at RJ McLeod Ltd, added, “With our support, the pupils of St Benedict’s and the water voles reached a compromise where the children have gained an enhanced and more exciting outdoor space and the water voles’ habitat has been protected.”

The project at the school came alongside the firm’s work on the South East of Glasgow and Cardowan surface water management plans, which are being delivered through the Glasgow city deal investment. The scheme will bring reduced flood risks and impacts in their respective areas, improve water quality, bring green space improvements, and increase drainage capacity.