YOUNGSTERS in Chippenham were given a big surprised when they returned to school after lockdown.

St Peter’s School have refurbished their entire playground after being given a grant of £45,000 from Diocese of Bristol’s Education Team .

One pupil in key stage one said: “I like the hill where you get to slide down on your tummy.

“I wasn’t expecting this much, I fainted.”

A tunnel, balance frames, climbing wall and a jungle gym were all built as part of the new playground.

Michelle Pennycott, the school business manager, said: “We did have old wooden play equipment but it was very old and past its sell by date.

“It was in desperate need of replacement and unfortunately our school budget wasn’t enough to do it. So we were looking for funding to try and help with this project.

“Diocese have an education fund which we applied for and they gave us a significant amount of money.”

The school were able to completely upgrade the playground because of the large sum of money handed to them.

Children in the Foundation stage, Key Stage One and Key Stage Two have been loving the new play area since they came back to school.

Michelle said: “When the children came back and saw it they were completely surprised, they had no idea we were working on it.

“For them to not have been in school for so long and come back to this wonderful and exciting new playground it was the best thing ever for them.

“It has been an absolute pleasure to watch them play on it and play together. Even children who find it hard being in a classroom environment and around lots of other children have even got involved.”

All the teachers were also completely blown away by the upgrade.

Ms Pennycott told the Gazette what it was like returning to the school after five months of lockdown, and how the play area had helped the children.

She said: “It has just alleviated any anxiety about being in school.

“It’s such a big change to what we had before, it’s such a wow factor and quickly made any anxiety go away.

“Because of how we have to run the school day now they get lots of time outside, so they have time to explore and play. It’s a very nurturing, caring process, good for their mental health and wellbeing. They get to socialise again and see their friends.”