Playgrounds on school sites
Designing, building and upgrading playgrounds and providing playground equipment are your responsibilities as a board of trustees. There are some standards you must meet. You must maintain the playground to keep it safe.
- Building or upgrading a playground
- Paying for a new playground
- Maintaining your playground
- Insuring your playground
You are responsible for designing, building and upgrading playgrounds and providing playground equipment.
When planning to build or upgrade a playground, you can choose your playground design and equipment, as long as:
- the building work follows the Ministry’s project management requirements
- the design meets New Zealand Standard 5828:2015: Playground equipment and surfacing.
You can buy the standard and the handbook (which gives advice on standard compliance) from the Standards NZ website:
- NZS 5828:2015: Playground equipment and surfacing (external link)
- NZS HB 5828.1 General Playground Equipment and Surfacing Handbook (external link)
Building consent for a new playground
You or your project manager should contact the local council to find out whether your planned playground needs building consent. Even if it does not require building consent, you must still:
- get this advice in writing from the council
- keep it in the project file for future reference.
Choosing the right playground equipment
There are different types of playground equipment available. Some are high risk, like trampolines, off-road BMX tracks and skate tracks.
When deciding what type of equipment to install, consider whether it will affect your ability to provide a safe environment for your students.
You must use board funding to pay the costs of building a playground.
Playground modifications for students with special education needs
You may be able to get special education property modification funding to provide access to playgrounds for students with special education needs. This could include installing a ramped path for wheelchair access to the playing field or playground.
This property modification funding does not cover modifications to playground equipment, for example:
- installing a wheelchair swing
- adding ramps and rails to a fort or climbing equipment.
These modifications can be paid for with board funding.
If you have used board funding to build the playground, you must use board funding to maintain it or do any rebuilding and upgrades.
If you have used 5 Year Agreement (5YA) funding to build a playground, the Ministry owns it. You can then use:
- your Property Maintenance Grant to maintain the playground
- your 5YA funding to address health and safety issues. The project must meet our requirements for a capital project (see: Understanding the difference between capital and maintenance costs). For example, replacing bark is an operating expense rather than a capital work, and therefore not an appropriate use of 5YA funding. Any work on Ministry-owned playgrounds is a priority 4 project (see: Step 3: Consider inputs at the 10YPP initiation meeting).
Ask your property advisor if you are unsure of who owns your existing playground.
Managing playgrounds built with CCA-treated timber
In the past, some playground structures were built with CCA-treated timber. This is timber treated with a preserving mixture containing copper, chromium and arsenic.
See CCA-treated timber for information about how to manage it in your playground.
The Ministry’s School Building Insurance Funding Programme does not cover playgrounds.
If you want to insure your school playground, you must:
- take out your own insurance policy
- pay for it using board funding.
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