invest in your children

in your
table of
What we do 3
the economics of quality
who we are 9
designed for children
roomscapes: more than furntiure
case studies 20
delivering quality 23
services that add value
Public Contracts 31
contact us 33
© 2013 by Community Products (UK ) Limited
Community Playthings is a trading name of Community Products (UK )
Limited, registered in England and Wales No. 3498955. Registered office:
Darvell, Brightling Road, Robertsbridge TN32 5DR
we DO
Community Playthings designs, manufactures
and sells the safest and most durable furniture,
toys and equipment for primary schools and
early years settings. Together with visionary
educators, we have been creating beautiful
learning environments for over 50 years.
Our brand offers true value for money.
Community Playthings delivers excellence at
every stage of your project, saving you time and
money and enhancing your reputation.
The best way to fully understand our products
and the values behind them is to visit us in East
Sussex. You can arrange a visit at any time.
“Having spent many years looking for good
value and regretting having bought ‘cheap’,
I now find that true good value is having
versatile, attractive and matching furniture
that lasts forever and looks good.”
year warranty on all
Marion Scott-Baker, Head of Pre-Prep, Cheam School, Berkshire
of Quality
Some people will say that Community Playthings
is expensive. However, if you compare the
longevity of our products against cheaper
alternatives, it is easy to see why this is a
misconception. Budget furniture mostly lasts less
than four years1, and can look terrible after just a
few months. Community Playthings will never last
less than 10 years, and still looks great even then.
But product replacement costs are not the whole
picture. Hidden costs such as a poor Ofsted
rating, nursery accidents, unimpressed parents
and unfilled places will have a far greater impact.
A decision to invest in quality childcare
equipment, rather than cheaper alternatives, is a
wise one. We have yet to meet a customer who
regrets buying Community Playthings.
percent of our customers
achieved “Outstanding” Ofsted
ratings after a major purchase –
double the national average
“We are very pleased with all of the Community Playthings products in
the reception class. They have completely changed the look and ethos of
the setting. The children seem to respect the environment more and play
seems much more productive. Ofsted commented on the super furniture
and the blocks in particular.”
percent increase in
profits are made by
“Outstanding” settings
“Six years after getting our furniture and
a room plan from yourselves, I still love
coming into school every day.”
Kierna Corr, Nursery Teacher, comment from Facebook
Alexandra Price, Amblecote Primary School, West Midlands
Impress parents and fill places
Our products make an instant visual impact,
helping to impress your clients and attract new
parents. A recent study4 found that being unable
to fill their places was the most common financial
concern among childcare providers. It showed
that settings with less than 60% of their places
filled on a typical day were almost twice as likely
not to make any profit.
Outstanding Ofsted results
A good Ofsted report can be the difference
between financial success and failure for
an early years setting. In fact, the Childcare
Provider Finances Survey 2012 showed that the
profits of settings with an “Outstanding” rating
were 47% higher than those with “Satisfactory”.
Whilst buying Community Playthings can’t
guarantee you a great Ofsted result, our
statistics show that settings that have an
inspection after making a significant purchase2
of Community Playthings are more than
twice as likely as the national average to be
graded “Outstanding”.3 A customer’s recent
“Outstanding” Ofsted inspection report states:
“Children have access to an abundant range of
high-quality toys and resources, within a very
well planned, child orientated and extremely
welcoming environment.”
10 year warranty on every product
With Community Playthings you can avoid the
time and trouble caused by having to replace
furniture every few years. You can expect
decades of service from our products; if they fail
within 10 years of purchase they will be replaced
free of charge6 .
Parents who are impressed by your setting won’t
just enrol their children, but will also recommend
you to other parents.
Reduce staff turnover
Reducing staff turnover is vital for financial health
and morale. Children’s behaviour is positively
affected by a properly laid out environment,
reducing conflict and increasing the quality and
depth of play. Staff will appreciate being able to
support children’s learning rather than managing
their behaviour, and will be more satisfied and
Prevent accidents
A serious injury can have terrible consequences
for the child and parents, and injury claims are
hugely time-consuming, costly, and can destroy a
setting’s reputation.
Flimsy, poorly designed equipment that fails or
breaks can cause injuries. Our products not only
comply with all applicable safety standards, but are
designed with children’s safety as a core principle.
Buying durable equipment with an extremely low
failure rate5 is the only sensible choice.
“Community Playthings have made it possible for
Save the Children to carry out vital work in many
places around the world. When I had the opportunity
to visit their workshop and talk with their staff, I
could see that their vision for children matches ours.”
is the year our
community began
Justin Forsyth, CEO, Save the Children
Anyone who visits our workshops soon
understands why Community Playthings
products are different. They are designed, made
and sold by a community of people that have
been caring for children since 1920.
Over 50 years ago we started selling toys and
furniture that reflect our care and love for
children. We mainly sell to the early years and
primary school market. Although we are the
market leaders in design and manufacturing,
we have managed to retain the personal feel
you normally only find in a family business. This
reflects our commitment to each other, to
quality, and to children.
We don’t just sell equipment. We have a keen
interest in early education, and regularly write
articles and deliver trainings for educators.
years ago we started
selling toys and
How it all started
Community Playthings began at a cooperative
in the United States, when a handful of young
fathers set up a woodworking shop. Most of
their equipment was cobbled together on the
spot: a belt sander, a cut-off saw built around
the rear axle of an old Model T, and a few other
primitive machines. The product line consisted of
unit blocks and hollow blocks, hand-decorated
figures and several wheeled toys.
Shortly after that, the cooperative’s members,
along with the fledgling business, joined an
established educational community influenced
by Froebel, Pestalozzi and other progressive
thinkers. This gave Community Playthings a
foundation that has guided it as a business ever
since: letting children be children and putting
their needs first.
In 1955 a branch company opened in our
English community. Believing that children thrive
on imaginative and open-ended play, the first
products sold were wooden blocks – the same
shape and size we still make today!
major projects were
completed in the
last 5 years
No order too big or too small
No order is too small for us – you will
experience great customer service regardless
of order size. However, our products will add
the most value to your setting when they are
used to create a unified environment that helps
children develop and learn. For this reason, we
often work with settings on refurbishment and
new build projects. In the last 5 years we have
completed over 900 projects, each with a value
between £10,000 and £250,000. Our products
can be purchased on several public contracts,
see page 31 for details. Financing is also
available. Please contact us if you are interested.
We can work to your deadlines. New build
schools or those refurbishing are often on
a tight timescale, and need to be open by a
certain date. We can help ensure you don’t
let down your customers.
Our social responsibility
Community Plaything is socially active through
the community of which it is a part. Among
several other projects, our profits recently
enabled Tomorrow’s People and Kent County
Council to run an employment programme for
families in Maidstone. We have funded many
projects overseas with Save the Children, and
are currently looking to fund a UK parenting
programme run by them.
The workforce is made up of community
members of all ages and capabilities. We actively
support each person in the workplace, ensuring
that they can make a positive contribution to the
business. Come and see it in action.
Wellingtons for Langley Hall
Wellingtons is the nursery connected with
Langley Primary Academy, a new free school in
Slough. The director, Sally Eaton, was head of
Childcare Company for years and understands
the importance of the indoor environment.
From the outset she was determined to use
our equipment, and in April 2011 Sally visited
Community Playthings in East Sussex to design
the furniture layouts for each room.
“Having spent years training
practitioners how to create
stimulating, quality learning
environments, I wanted to ensure
that my new nursery in Langley
provided children with a safe
and inspirational place to play.
I asked Community Playthings
to advise me on the planning of
the room layout so that it would
enhance the learning activities
we would do with the children.
Parents are highly complimentary
and the whole nursery certainly
has the wow factor.”
Sally Eaton, Head
percent of our
waste is recycled
Environmentally friendly
The world we are raising children in, and leaving
to them, is important to us. Wood is sustainable;
we make sure more trees are planted than are
cut down. Community Playthings is certified by
the global forest management schemes – the
FSC® and the PEFC. The water-based finish we
use is safe for children and the environment.
We are accredited to ISO 14001 (environmental).
Products are built to last, which ultimately means
less waste. Wood waste from our workshop is
used to heat our buildings via our biomass plant
and 97% of our total waste is recycled7. Our
installation service for large orders ensures that
no packaging is left with the customer, and much
of it can be reused.
“I have been purchasing your equipment since 1980
and have always been impressed with the design
and quality of your products. Some of the products
purchased by this Nursery in the 1970’s are still in
use today. Now that is value for money!”
essential principles
of design: safety and
Liz Rook, Head, Eastwood Nursery School, London
The way that children play influences our
designs. Each item is designed to support openended play, making sure a child’s imagination is
never limited by what they play with. The design
process is heavily influenced by customers,
experts in child development from across
Europe, and our own expertise.
Real wood is at the core of our designs.
Wood is natural and looks beautiful, creating a
relaxing, home-like environment. Wood is also
extremely durable; its lifespan far exceeds MDF
and other cheap composites.
All our items have a unified look. The
environment that children play in has a great
effect on them, and should be one of quality.
Calm, protected areas allow children to
concentrate on their play. Children who have
ample opportunities for play go on to become
eager learners who achieve well in school.
Our furniture products are modular and
adaptable, enabling the environment to be
changed and developed.
There are 2 essential principles for every
product we design: safety and durability.
All new designs are extensively field-tested
in childcare settings, as well as in our own
laboratory for controlled-cycle testing.
percent of our products
outlast the warranty
years is the age of some
of our items still in use
today – such as the
truck below
“Whenever one of the Manchester Schools gets a new building
we do a complete audit of all the existing furniture. Community
Playthings shelving always gets moved to the new school. That’s
because it is still sound even if it is 10 to 15 years old. Newer
MDF shelving goes in the skip, it just isn’t worth moving.”
Mr Rik J Perkin, Corporate Technical Services, Manchester City Council
Safety – designed into everything
we make
Early years practitioners worry about children’s
safety with good reason; an accident is awful
for the child, parents and caregivers. It can
also have a devastating effect on a setting’s
reputation and finances.
We design safety into our items. Third party
accreditation ensures each product meets the
General Product Safety Regulations 2005 or The
Toys (Safety) Regulations 2011 where applicable.
Unlike cheaper alternatives, our furniture is
safe for children to play with and around. Every
corner and edge is rounded, even on the back
and underneath. We use pinch-free hinges and
make sure every surface is smooth. There are
no small parts that can break off and become
a choking hazard.
Built to last
Creating an adaptable environment
Discerning purchasers look for products with a
long lifecycle, thus offering true value for money.
Solid hardwood and quality craftsmanship
provide just that. Mortise and tenon joints
ensure strength, and our products are supplied
fully assembled. Flat-packed furniture is not only
frustrating and time-consuming to assemble,
but is often flimsy as well.
All our items can be adjusted and reconfigured
without tools. MultiTables feature toolfree adjustable legs which can be removed
for stacking and storage. Our interlocking
furniture system, Roomscapes, gives your room
unparalleled adaptability.
Purchasing Community Playthings is an
investment for the future. Our products come
with a 10 year warranty, and we regularly
hear from people who are using equipment
manufactured 30 to 40 years ago. Less than 2
products per 1000 develop a problem during
the warranty period.8
Early years settings experience fluctuations
in the number, ages and interests of children
who attend. An adaptable classroom layout
is essential. All our products are designed to
enable this, and to be multi-functional. The
Drama Centre, for instance, not only keeps
dress-ups and props tidy, but also serves as a
stage, shop, house and more.
the number of
tools needed
to reconfigure
more than
What children need
How to begin
The problem
There is a clear business case for using Roomscapes.
You can reduce your design and building costs while
increasing the adaptability and usability of your
rooms. Community Playthings is the sole supplier
of such a system within the EU, so if you are using
public procurement, you may be able to acquire
Roomscapes without going to tender.
Children play and learn best in an environment
that allows them to be secure, comfortable and
undisturbed. This is especially important for children
with special educational needs. Teachers need to be
able to create such an environment by making activity
areas within the classroom that can be adapted to
match the children’s changing interests.
Many settings have activity areas designed and built
in, but later regret it. One nursery we know did just
this; a year later when teachers wanted to integrate
reading and role play they found they couldn’t. If an
area is moved, built-in cupboards, such as for an art
area, are no longer conveniently situated. Cheaper
furniture which is not built in is often designed to be
used against a wall, taking up valuable space.
An optimum room layout is gained by using our free
layout service. We are happy to provide full layouts
and quotes as soon as building plans are available –
even before the building is built.
The solution
The solution is Roomscapes, an interlocking furniture
and divider system that is unique in the market.
The system gives teachers the ability to quickly
and regularly change and develop their room
layout without using any tools. Storage shelving is
incorporated into the room division system, making
it available where it is needed, and the shelving backs
and dividers provide ideal play and display areas. The
shelves incorporate a hidden castor system enabling
them to be moved fully loaded. The castors can fold
away, securing the item in place.
“The Community Playthings
furniture helped us create
calm beauty within each
classroom. Dartington should
feel like home to you. We were
inspired by your resources and
our shared ideals to create a
wonderful place for learning!”
Jill Mahon, Head Teacher
Case study:
Dartington Primary School and Nursery
The buildings at Dartington C of E Primary
and Nursery School are designed to minimise
the barriers between outdoors and indoors.
Jill Mahon, the Head teacher, wanted each
classroom to be an uplifting space. Trees, grass
and a stream outside, and wooden furniture
inside all say: childhood is celebrated here.
Case study:
Tidemill Academy
When Tidemill Primary School moved to a
new building and became an Academy, the
staff wanted to take a completely new look at
their Nursery and Reception classrooms. We
worked together with them to create paths and
boundaries between the activity areas using
Roomscapes. This lets the children feel secure
and engage deeply in all the activities on offer.
“After visiting settings and seeing
Community Playthings furniture
in action, I knew it was the
quality solution we wanted at
Tidemill. Sitting down with a
planning adviser in the Community
Playthings display room proved
invaluable. The children love the
furniture and it has helped to create
a calm and safe environment that
they are able to explore and use
independently. The Roomscapes
furniture has proved extremely
useful as we are continually
changing the environment to
meet our children’s needs.”
Carl Vernalls, EYFS Phase leader and Nursery teacher
“Community Playthings is the only manufacturer I know
of that is not cutting corners in product manufacturing. I
believe the initial cost pays off because of the durability and
quality of the products. I am grateful that the philosophy
behind Community Playthings products matches the quality
services I am wishing to provide.”
Rob Stone, Head Teacher, Westfield Nursery, Fife
quality checks take
place before each
item is packed
We make everything in our catalogue, enabling
us to ensure absolute quality in every product.
Manufacturing our own products completes
the link between customer feedback and
design. You always have direct access to the
company who made your items, so there will
never be the excuse that the mistake was made
by some far-away manufacturer. Our facilities
are certified to the ISO 9001:2008 quality
management system.
ISO 9001:2008
percent of our products
are delivered in perfect
percent of orders
are dispatched
within 1 day – 96%
within 1 week
“Community Playthings equipment is simply the best. The natural
wood items are superb quality and offer fantastic value for money.
Equipment bought over 3 years ago is ‘as good as new’. I’ve never
had to send any piece back as the workmanship is first class. Plus the
items are packaged so well that nothing gets damaged in transit. From
the first point of contact Community Playthings cannot be faulted.”
Allison Winship, Head of Childcare, Kids 1st Day Nurseries, Gateshead
Traditional craftsmanship
Community Playthings uses a blend of
traditional craftsmanship and modern processcontrol to ensure that every product is perfect.
Each part is inspected and assembled by hand,
and the final product is inspected twice before
it is packed. This stringent quality control means
customers rarely find fault with our products.
Fast, reliable delivery
We guarantee 2-week delivery on all our
products but 74% of orders are dispatched
within 1 day and 96% within a week 9. Our
logistics facility in Kent holds substantial stocks
of finished goods so that even large orders can
ship quickly. Delivery is free.
Supply chain management
All our critical supplies, such as wood, are
sourced from within the EU. Considerable
stocks of raw materials are held at our logistics
facility in Kent, meaning that interruption of
supply is extremely rare. This enables us to
respond within hours to large or urgent orders.
Suppliers are visited 4 times a year to ensure
they adhere to our stringent quality standards,
to check their financial heath, and ensure they
are complying with all relevant regulations.
In 2011, less than 2 items in 1000 were
damaged in transit10 – meaning you not only get
your order quickly, but in perfect condition as
well. This is a huge saving of your time as well
as a testament to our products’ durability and
careful packaging.
“At Asquith we believe that quality resources designed
with children in mind inspire young minds to learn
through open-ended play. We have bought cheaper
products and they never last. All Community
Playthings equipment comes with a ten year
warranty, showing the confidence they have in their
beautifully crafted products.”
Andy Morris, CEO and Managing Director, Asquith Day Nurseries
customers visit us in
East Sussex each year
That Add
We offer a complete, end-to-end solution
that creates a perfect learning environment.
Our service from room layout to installation
can save you time and money, and our free
trainings will help you maximise the benefit
of your investment.
nurseries and schools use
our Room Layout Service
each week
price you pay for our
training resources
“Creating a nursery in such a vast space was a daunting
experience, but was made enjoyable by our partnership with
Community Playthings. The planning meeting with their
expert advisors afforded us the opportunity to try different
layouts. They listened to our needs and worked with us to
establish a layout within our budget.”
Sarah Hill, Owner, Nelly’s Nursery, London
Free expert room layout
Every week we plan at least 4 nurseries and
primary schools11, helping our customers
visualise an ideal room layout and create
protected play areas. Our Planners have expert
knowledge of childcare legislation and child
development. They plan environments that help
you comply with all relevant regulations and
enable children to play, learn and develop.
By involving us early enough, significant
savings on building costs may be possible by
utilising our unique Roomscapes furniture
system. The Room Layout Service will
save you money and time by ensuring you
purchase exactly the right products.
Installation service for large orders
Free training
Interested in financing for large orders?
We also supply free training resources to help
your staff fully understand the educational
theory behind our products and how to
maximize their value. These are available
as training packages, allowing schools and
nurseries to run their own trainings.
Provided you have used our Room Layout Service
we can install your products. The items are
delivered and unpacked, placed in the correct
location, and packaging is taken away. This service
is only practical for large orders, and can save you
time and effort on refurbishments and new builds.
Community Playthings is an approved supplier
with Lombard financing. Call 0800 387 457
for details.
As part of your project, Community Playthings
can deliver free trainings at our headquarters
in East Sussex. Training topics vary; popular
themes include maximising the use of our
products, supporting play and learning,
complying with the EYFS, and developing
the play and learning environment.
Lighting the
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You can either visit us in East Sussex so we
can plan your rooms together, or send us your
building plans and we will design a layout for
your approval.
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“Working in partnership with Community Playthings, we have
valued their expertise, knowledge and understanding of both their
products and our markets. Our customers value their brand, and
we hope to continue our relationship in the future to provide their
excellent specialist products to education settings across the UK.”
number of orders
delivered on public
contracts in one year
Ian Eckersley, National Sales Manager, YPO
Public contracts
Your procurement department may find it helpful to
know that Community Playthings can be purchased on the
following public contracts as of June 2013:
Contact us at 0800 387 457 for further details.
“Looking for a nursery for my 18-month-old, I visited two with
very tired-looking, brightly coloured plastic furniture which did
not attract me. Then I found a nursery with inspiring wooden
furniture from Community Playthings. This creates an atmosphere
that is inviting, safe and encouraging for play. My child is very
happy there, and I am too because I know the staff care.”
0800 387 457
is our phone number – call us when you are ready
Perdita Chamberlain, Mother, East Sussex
Primary schools surveyed for “Furniture and Storage in
English Maintained Schools – BESA, 2012” were asked
how long they felt budget furniture should last. The
average was 4.2 years. Furniture in early years settings gets
rougher use – we often hear of budget furniture lasting
less than one year.
We consider £5000 and above a significant purchase.
Study of 342 settings completed by Community Playthings
in June 2012. The study found that 27% of customers
who made a significant purchase were subsequently
rated “Outstanding” compared to the national average of
around 12%.
hildcare Provider Finances Survey, 2012, Department for
Approximately 0.17% of our products develop a fault
during their lifetime.
for full details of our warranty.
Calculated by weight.
Figure taken from internal statistics for 2011 looking at all
reported defects regardless of manufacturing date.
Data taken from internal statistics for 2011.
The damage in transit rate was 0.16%.
Settings planned per week is averaged over five years.
Community Playthings
Brightling Road
East Sussex TN32 5DR
Telephone: 0800 387 457