Around 60 people, including the Mayor of Cheshire East, gathered at our Church Lawton School on 27 May to open two newly built playgrounds.

Pupils are delighted with the new play areas, which they’ve been using since the start of the spring term.

The Worshipful the Mayor of Cheshire East, Councillor Olivia Hunter, met pupils, parents and staff at the formal opening and unveiled a plaque to mark the day. She also watched Paul Scales, the school principal, and Mark Lever, our Chief Executive, bury a time capsule, filled with a number of objects including students’ work, coins of today, a whole school photo. It will be opened in 50 years, on 27 May 2066.

The secondary playground is 640 metres squared and primary one is 320 metres squared. They feature adventure play equipment, a climbing frame, a trim trail and firma markings for traditional games like hopscotch.

The school opened in 2015 and staff have been working hard to develop a really exciting playground, securing funding from the Big Lottery Fund and other fundraising.

Sophie Buckland-Povey, 14, is a student at the school. She said: "It is such an honour to receive this equipment and I think this has really helped the children to learn and to share. I hope it helps all the children who play on it."

Alfie Butler, 12, added: "I think the play area is awesome because it's much more fun than before.”

Everything in the school is planned around autism and pupils' needs – from the design of the school building to the tailored curriculum - and the playground is no exception. As well as being fun, it is designed to promote healthy lifestyles and interest in sport, boost pupils' confidence and develop their life skills.

Autistic people tend to be anxious about meeting new people and can struggle to filter out sounds, smells and sights around them. Many of the students at the Church Lawton School find it difficult to cope with the crowded and noisy public parks, and often feel they can't go at all.

Paul Scales, Principal of NAS Church Lawton School, hopes the playground will provide a safe space for pupils to build their confidence, so they can start using public parks too. He said: "We're delighted that the Mayor could be here to help us mark this day.

"All children and young people should be able to go to their local park. But many of our students find this hard, due to anxieties around meeting new people and difficulties with crowds and loud noises.

"The new play areas will give them a safe space where they can master the equipment, build their confidence and eventually start using public parks and play areas too. It's all part of helping our pupils to develop the life skills they need as they grow into adulthood - whether that's further education, employment or living as independently as possible."

The Worshipful the Mayor of Cheshire East, Councillor Olivia Hunter, said: “It was wonderful to share this special day with the pupils, parents and staff.

“More than 1 in 100 people are on the autism spectrum and it’s so important that they’re given the same opportunities as everyone else. There’s a clear need for autism-specific education in the area so we’re delighted to have this fine school is part of our community.”