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1) Restoring a historic public park - teachers' notes

About this activity

Students examining an 18th-century park shelterThis is a dynamic and engaging role-play activity that aims to increase young people's appreciation of public parks and the issues surrounding their protection, funding and management. It supports work in citizenship, in which students learn how people can have a say in matters that affect their environment, and how through discussion, negotiation and compromise they can effect and influence change. It also helps students to appreciate the needs of others in the community and to respect their views when formulating plans for shared space.

Students work in groups on a problem-solving scenario to allocate money from a grant to restore an important historic park and return it to community use after years of neglect and damage. The activity is supported by downloadable resources, and can be based on an actual local park in need of repair and regeneration. Where this is the case students may visit the park to identify historic features and assess their condition using the activity sheet below.


  • Activity sheet for making a  survey of a historic park.

  • Role cards of people interested in the regeneration of a park. You need not use all. Or you can create your own roles.

  • Illustrations of a neglected park with estimated costs for the repair of each feature. These can be revised to suit your own purposes by increasing or reducing the range of costed options.

  • Grant conditions. These, too, can be revised or reduced to suit your purposes.

What to do

  • Identify a local park with a range of historic features and organise students in groups or in pairs to assess their condition using the activity sheet on making a survey of a historic park.

  • Divide students into role-play groups, assigning each student a role to play.

  • Read and explain the grant conditions and the amount awarded.

  • All students with the same role meet together first. Using the images of a neglected park they share and formulate ideas for restoring some of the park's features, exploring issues related to their specific role.

  • Students then regroup in their role-play groups.

  • Each member of the group presents their ideas for the park to the other members of the group. They must argue their case strongly as there will not be sufficient money to meet everyone's wishes.

  • After each presentation, others in the group have the opportunity express concerns or to disagree with the proposals, giving their reasons.

  • By the end of the ‘meeting' the group agree on a plan for the restoration of the park that meets the grant conditions and is within budget.

Students standing in front of a boarded-up glasshouseYou may need to explain to students the difference between repair, restore, renovate and regenerate.

It may not be necessary to restore every feature to its original condition or return it to its original purpose. The emphasis is on regenerating the park and encouraging greater community use. This may require new initiatives. Where features no longer serve their original use students can consider adapting them for an alternative use.

Extended ideas

You could extend students' thinking skills by developing the scenario further by asking them:

  • How the park can generate additional revenue towards its own upkeep?

  • Where else they could go to seek funding? Their suggestions might include sponsorship, staging major events, grants from other agencies or donations from local businesses.

Understanding parks

Before you start, it may be useful to explain why public parks were created. See history of public parks. Also, the photographs in the Resource Area will help students understand how parks were used in the past, how they are used now, and how important these public assets could be to communities today.