Parent’s Guide

Adventure playgrounds are places where children and young people use outdoor structures and indoor facilities to play throughout the year. They provide spaces that are child friendly, exciting, fun and are ‘open-access’, allowing children to come and go as they choose.

This Adventure Playground is one of 12 adventure playgrounds across the London Borough of Islington providing children with a range of play settings that they can choose from. Adventure playgrounds provide a place where children and young people can feel:

  • Safe, secure and able to play freely.
  • Respected, included and valued. That difference and diversity is celebrated, and they are supported to become confident and independent.
  • They have a choice of different play opportunities.
  • That they can meet friends and make new ones.
  • They can help in design and development of the playground and the play opportunities it offers.
What is an adventure playground

What is an adventure playground, and why are they so important for your child’s development and well-being?

An adventure playground is a special place designed solely for children’s play. Skilled playworkers are there to facilitate and empower children to take ownership of the space, both physically and culturally. Unlike other play areas, adventure playgrounds encourage activities like digging, building fires, and making and demolishing dens – activities that might not be allowed elsewhere.

The key idea here is that each adventure playground is unique and evolves with the participation of the community and the children who play there. But what are the essential elements that make adventure playgrounds so crucial for your child’s development and well-being?

A Wide Range of Play Opportunities: Adventure playgrounds aim to offer a wide variety of play experiences, from spontaneous and free expression to exploring physical, social, emotional, imaginary, and sensory spaces. Children have the freedom to choose how they play.

Freedom in Play: Children are encouraged to engage in different types of play and follow their interests. There’s no “one-size-fits-all” approach; the focus is on the interaction between children and their play environment.

Creating Magical Spaces: Adventure playgrounds are designed to have a sense of “magic” that appeals to children. The play space is co-created with the children, respecting their ongoing play activities.

Rich Play Environment:Outdoor areas provide various playable spaces, including challenging structures, quiet areas, natural elements like water and sand, and accessible equipment. Indoors, there are facilities for arts, crafts, cooking, and more.

Involvement of Children and Young People: Children are actively involved in shaping and modifying the playground, ensuring that it meets their needs and preferences.

Community-Centric:Adventure playgrounds are at the heart of the community, and the local community is closely involved in their development and evolution. This community support ensures the playground’s sustainability and contributes to community cohesion.

Skilled Staff: The playgrounds are staffed by trained and skilled playworkers who follow Playwork Principles. These staff members facilitate play rather than directing it and help maintain and modify the playground features.

Access and Inclusion: Adventure playgrounds are designed to be fully accessible and inclusive for all children, including those with disabilities or from minority communities. They are open year-round, ensuring play in all weather conditions.

Now, let’s talk about the “Three Frees,” which are guiding principles for adventure playgrounds:

Free of Charge: Entry to adventure playgrounds is free, ensuring that all children, regardless of their background, can participate in play experiences. While there may be separate fees for additional activities, the core playground experience remains free.

Free to Come and Go: Children have the freedom to come and go from the playground during opening hours with their parent’s or carer’s permission. This autonomy encourages independence and responsible decision-making.

Free to Choose: Children are encouraged to choose how they engage in play, fostering creativity, self-expression, and a sense of ownership over their activities.

Lastly, adventure playgrounds understand the importance of risk and challenge in children’s play. They recognize that children benefit from encountering and managing risks, both physical and emotional, in a safe environment. Balancing challenging play opportunities with safety is a fundamental aspect of adventure playgrounds.

In summary, adventure playgrounds provide a unique and essential space for your child’s development and well-being. They promote creativity, independence, and a sense of community while allowing children to explore and learn through play in a safe and supportive environment.

Who can access our Play Service

In school term time access to our play service is Free for all children and young people aged 6-13, who live or go to school in the London Borough of Islington.

In school holidays our play service is only Free to residents of the London Borough of Islington.  If you go to an islington school but live outside the London Borough of Islington there will be a charge to access the play service.

The charge for non Islington residents in school holidays is £5 for the morning session and £5 for the afternoon session. All income gained is reinvested back into the maintenance and upkeep of the adventure playgrounds.

The London Borough of Islington works in partnership with us to ensure that our play service across the six adventure playgrounds we manage is free for Islington residents.

Protective measures during the coronavirus (COVID-19) outbreak

System of controls: infection protection and control

In this section, where something is essential for public health reasons, as advised by Public Health England (PHE), we have said ‘must’. Where there is a legal requirement we have made that clear. This guidance does not create any new legal obligations.

This is the set of essential public health actions you must take. They are grouped into ‘prevention’ and ‘response to any infection’. If you follow the system of controls, you will effectively reduce risks in your setting and create an inherently safer environment.

These additional measures will be reviewed in partnership with health experts to decide whether evidence suggests that these measures can be eased ahead of the summer.


Providers (including their staff where applicable) must always:

1. Prevent contact with individuals who are required to self-isolate by ensuring they do not attend your setting.

2. Ensure face coverings are used in recommended circumstances.

3. Ensure everyone is advised to clean their hands thoroughly and more often than usual.

4. Ensure good respiratory hygiene for everyone by promoting the ‘catch it, bin it, kill it’ approach.

5. Maintain enhanced cleaning, including cleaning frequently touched surfaces often, using standard products such as detergents.

6. Consider how to minimise contact across the site and maintain social distancing wherever possible.

7. Keep occupied spaces well ventilated.

In specific circumstances:

8. Ensure individuals wear the appropriate personal protective equipment (PPE) where necessary.

9. Promote and engage in asymptomatic testing, where available.

Response to any infection

Providers (including their staff where applicable) must always:

10. Promote and engage with the NHS Test and Trace process.

11. Manage and report confirmed cases of COVID-19 amongst the setting community.

12. Contain any outbreak by following local health protection team advice.

Registering your child

Adventure playgrounds are ‘open-access’ sites, allowing children and young people to come and go from the playground freely. However, all children and young people who use the playground must have a completed online registration form that provides essential information about the child, including emergency contact details of their parent/carer. This ensures that staff members are aware of all children on the playground, that  it meets standards set by Ofsted, and that parents or carers can be contacted quickly in the unlikely event of an accident or emergency.

Staff are required to ensure that no children use the playground until the registration form is completed by a parent or carer.

Children’s registration forms are renewed annually to ensure information is correct and up to date.

Where any parents or carers contact details change (for example due to a house move or change of telephone number), it is important that you inform a member of staff immediately and update your records.

If your child would like to attend the playground, please complete a registration form online. If you would like support to complete the form you can arrange a time with a member of staff to assist you.

NOTE: If your child does not live or go to school in the London borough of Islington we will not be able to accept the registration form.

Attendance and collection arrangements

Open Access

Open access on adventure playgrounds means that you do not have to collect your children when it is time for them to go home, and they can come and go freely during the times when the playground is open.

Although some adventure playgrounds have breakfast and lunch clubs, they are not formal childcare settings.

We work closely with parents and carers who do not wish their child/ren to leave the adventure playground. Staff speak to all children under 11 who are about to leave the playground, to ensure they have been given permission. We ask parents to make it clear to their child/ren what their expectations are regarding leaving the playground.

The times of the playground are clearly displayed on notice boards outside and inside the building along with information about the programme and play opportunities that are available during term time and holiday periods

Opening times:

Term times: Tuesday to Friday 3.30pm – 6.30pm
Saturday 11.30am – 4.30pm
Stay and play Family time Saturdays 11.30am – 1pm

Holiday times:

Monday – Friday 10.30am – 5.30pm

Lunchtime closures holiday times:

1.30pm – 2.30pm Monday to Friday

Annual closures and Inset days: Please see playgrounds web page for up to date information

Children will be expected to leave the site when it closes and parents wishing to collect their children will need to arrange this with their children in advance. Please speak with a member of staff if you have any questions.

Stay and Eat - Play all day

Stay and Eat

Our Lunch Club offer is aimed at supporting parents getting back into work and those who work full time. The Lunch Club runs during the adventure playground lunch closure from 1-2pm in school holiday periods. Allowing children to stay the whole day until 5.30pm in school holidays. Children are supervised onsite while they eat their lunch for one hour.

Parents Provide the Lunch

A healthy packed lunch must be provided every day by the parent/carers. We recommend the following website for ideas and information on healthy packed lunches for children.


To secure one of the limited spaces payments need to be made in advance. Payments are only taken on the first Monday of every holiday week.

Limited Spaces

We have limited spaces available, so operate on a first come first serve basis on the first Monday morning of every school holiday. Individual days can be booked at this time for the whole entire, current holiday period. Spaces booked and paid for are non refundable.

Lunch Club holiday times: 1.30pm -2.30pm

Cost: £5 per child per day
Payment day: In advance on the first Monday of every week

Playground and staff information

The following adventure playgrounds are managed by Awesome CIC, which is owned by employees, who provide the staffing and maintain the facilities on offer.

The staff team is managed by a Play Coordinator who manages the site and co-ordinates the work of a team of part time Playwork staff.

Barnard Adventure Playground – 020 7837 1512 Copenhagen Street, London N1 0WF

Cape Adventure Playground – 0203 875 3662 83 Crouch Hill, London N8 9EG

Cornwallis Adventure Playground – 020 7281 0094 Cornwallis Road, London N19 4LP

Kings Henry’s Walk Adventure Playground – 020 7254 4783 King Henry’s Walk, London N1 3NX

Three Corners Adventure Playground – 0207 833 0020 Northampton Road, London EC1R 0HU

Waterside Adventure Playground – 0207 359 6200 50 Dame Street, London N1 7FR

If you need to speak with a member of staff they are normally available on site from 11am in term time and from 9am during school holidays.

If you need to have a more detailed conversation, then it is best to arrange a time when the playground is not open for children but when staff are available. 

Attending the playground - core information

Personal  belongings

We discourage children from bringing along any valuable items as these can often get damaged during adventurous play, lost or stolen. Mobile phones and other electronics are best left at home as the Playground will have many activities that provide fun and enjoyment without the worry of them getting lost. The adventure playground will not accept any liability for items which are damaged, lost or stolen.


Adventure play gives children the chance to take part in lively and sometimes messy play activities.

Children should come to the playground in clothes that they can play in freely and not worry about getting messy.

Given the large numbers of children who attend, it helps to have clothing clearly labelled, particularly coats, hats and scarves during the winter periods.

To ensure we reduce accidents, we suggest children come with shoes that are well fitted and have low heels.


The Adventure Playground is free to use for children in the borough and they are able to play freely and take part in the activities available. Where there are any costs for specific activities or events including trips, staff will provide information and details where this may apply.


During the term time and holiday programmes, the playground will run cookery sessions. If you have any specific concerns regarding your childˇs diet or your child has specific allergies, please tell the staff and provide full details on the registration form.

If your child has any severe allergic reactions to particular foods please ensure that this is raised with the Playwork Coordinator.

Health and safety

Accidents and emergencies

The staff work hard to minimise accidents on the Playground and will carry out regular site checks and risk assessments for the activities, building and off-site trips. However, accidents can sometimes happen and all injuries are recorded, with minor bruises and grazes being treated by qualified staff.

In the unlikely event of a more serious injury, parents or carers are contacted on the emergency numbers provided on the registration forms.


Staff are not encouraged to administer any drugs or medication to children and young people while at the Playground. If for any reason your child needs medicine (for example an inhaler to treat asthma) please speak with the Playwork Coordinator on site.

Where there is a requirement for children to take any medication during their time on the Playground, the Playwork Coordinator will require clear instructions from your doctor and your written permission.It is important that any medications are handed into the office and not left in your child’s bag. Please also ensure that medication is clearly labelled and dated and that there is enough medication for the length of time that your child is in the adventure playground’s care.

Questions, compliments and complaints

All children and young people should receive a high quality service and any concerns or issues you have should be dealt with professionally and in a timely manner.

If an issue is more serious and you do not feel that it is being dealt with appropriately, the following steps can be used to address your concerns:

  1. Initially, raise your concerns with any Playworker on site and seek to get the issue.
  2. If you are not satisfied that the issue has been resolved, you can request that it is addressed by the Playwork.
  3. If the issue continues or is not addressed to your satisfaction, it can be raised as a formal complaint with relevant Directors of Awesome.
Please send any formal complaints in writing to the following address or email:

Awesome ELM CIC, 85 Crouch Hill, London. N8 9EG CO/ Cape Adventure Playground

Or email:

To find out more about Awesome’s complaints procedure, go to:

To complain directly to Ofsted, call 0300 123 4666


Children and Young People

All children attending the Playground are expected to respect other children and staff and make the best use of the opportunities the playground provides.

Children will do this by:
  • Listening to staff and each other
  • Asking staff for help where they have concerns
  • Play in ways that are safe for themselves and other users
  • Respect each other’s differences

Staff will discuss any concerns about children’s behaviour with them in a calm and respectful way at the appropriate time. Children will often sort out their own differences and through play, this provides valuable learning opportunities. Where there are any concerns about bullying or ongoing behaviour difficulties, then these will be addressed quickly so that they do not escalate and effect children’s enjoyment of the Playground. If bullying is happening off of the playground (for example in school, on the way to or from the playground or through texts, facebook or emails), the playworkers will work with children and parents to find a solution.


Parents should behave in a respectful way while on the Playground and discuss any issues concerning other children with staff instead of with the children directly.

While it can be upsetting to hear stories from children about what may have taken place on the playground, parents must address any issues with staff.

Any concerns are best discussed outside of playground opening hours. Please agree a time to speak with the Playwork Coordinator at the earliest opportunity.

Our duty of care

As playworkers, we are part of the children and young peopleˇs workforce in Islington. We have a duty to report any concerns that we have about children and young people to the appropriate staff in the child protection team.

We also work closely with the Islington Safeguarding Children Board to make sure that we are always up to date with our policies and the services that we deliver. For more information about safeguarding and the Islington Safeguarding Children Board, please call 020 7527 4234 or visit their website,

If you have concerns about a child

If you have any concerns that a child may be being abused, maltreated or neglected, please ring Islington’s Referral and Advice team on 020 7527 7400. They will be able to advise on what action, if any, needs to be taken.

If you have concerns about the adventure playground or a member of staff

If you think that there is something that needs to be reported about the practice of staff at the adventure playground, you can contact a number of professionals to report your concerns:

Guy Lawrence, Managing Director of Awesome: 020 7272 3777

The Islington Children’s Social Care Team: 020 7527 7400

The Local Authority Designated Officer, Laura Eden: 020 7527 8066


By email:

By telephone: The following helplines are open from 8.00am to 6.45pm, Monday to Friday:

general helpline: 0300 123 1231 about education or adult skills:

0300 123 4234 prefix for Typetalk: 18001 for textphone/Minicom users:

0161 618 8524

By post: Ofsted Piccadilly Gate Store Street Manchester M1 2WD

Awesome is committed to Islington Children and Families Board pledges to ensure access to good quality universal services that help families and communities to deal with their own situations and problems themselves, only intervening when there is real concern for the safety or well-being of a child or young person to address problems as early as possible.

Get Involved

We welcome volunteers to help develop and sustain the free play opportunities we offer the children of Islington. Come and be part of a thriving community and share your skills and experience.

Adventure playgrounds are inspiring places, which often take you back to how you played as a child. If you would like to support us to continue to offer free and safe play spaces, that offer challenge and risk to build confidence and resilience.

You can get involved in a variety of ways, from sitting on the ‘Friends of Groupˇ, to helping run sessions, mentoring staff in new skills, construction, gardening, maintenance, fundraising, cleaning, administration and just by being an advocate for childrenˇs play.

Friends of Group

Get involved in the Friends of Group who are a group of parents and professionals who have a common interest in the future development of the adventure playground. Through regular meetings the group can fund raise on behalf of the centre and influence decision-making.

Throughout the year, the group would aim to run a variety of programmes and events to raise money to support the development of the adventure playground.

Awesome Adventure Play 2023-09-03T20:49:42+01:00