PUPILS at a Weymouth school are making the most of new £180,000 playground.

Staff and youngsters at Westfield Arts College are celebrating after three years of fundraising for their outdoor play and leisure area.

More than £100,000 was raised by fundraisers and generous donations, while the rest came from reserve school funds.

Headteacher Andrew Penman said: “The new playground and equipment enables our school to offer the pupils more options during breaks and lunchtimes and the opportunity to relax in ways that are appropriate across the age range.”

It was kick-started by a parent raising £1,600 from running the London Marathon. Since then funds have been donated by local people and organisations and national organisations totalling nearly £94,000.

Phase one included the erection of a multi-use games area (MUGA), the landscaping of a terraced area and the installation of several new and recycled pieces of play equipment.

Jenny Savage, school business manager at Westfield, said: “The children all have special needs and this playground provides different areas to suit each one of them.

“From the keen football players, the MUGA will provide a safe space for them to play. The swings, slides, climbing frames and other equipment will entertain them for hours with the landscaped area set to provide plenty of opportunity for relaxation, conversation and fun.”

A cheque was presented to the school from Jacquie Norman, of St James’s Place, and a further £4,250 was given by local charity Hangers Heroes.

Phase two is now dependent on more fundraising- this has begun by one parent who braved the Christmas Day Harbour swim and raised £2,000 towards a trampoline set. It will see the provision of a shaded area, more planting and sensory equipment.

Pupil Connor, 16, of Fortuneswell class, said: “My favourite part is the climbing frame. We all think it’s great.”

His classmate Thomas, 17, of Fortuneswell class, added: “Everyone loves the new play area. It has something for all ages.”

n Westfield is the largest maintained special school, catering for children aged 3 to 16 years, who have moderate learning difficulties.