Greening school grounds provides an opportunity to connect surrounding green spaces and bring them within the school gates. It gives the school the ability to extend their class room, promote wonder and awe in nature and provides a place to learn about and connect with nature. Never has there been a more perfect example of this than what our conservation team here at Shropshire Wildlife Trust have been doing with John Randall Primary School in Telford.
~ Bryony Carter, Shropshire Wildlife Trust
After the destruction of their beloved forest school area due to essential building work, it was necessary for pupils to have a quiet place to explore and enjoy. John Randall Primary School has fully got on board with Nature Friendly Schools and has committed to 45 minutes of outdoor learning every day for each class which is monumental.
A covered outdoor space for each class would really support this initiative. It would only seem fitting and quite appropriate that when sourcing materials for this, the conservation team found some amazing trees that for safety reasons needed to be felled on our Earls Hill nature reserve. This has special prominence as Earls Hill was Shropshire Wildlife Trust’s first ever designated nature reserve.
After the trees were felled, and carefully removed off site, they were able to be installed on the school site and waterproof sails were added to cover the area. In addition to this, the school installed some wooden seating and willow screens. The school was so pleased with the outcome and have been so inspired with the story of where the wood has come from, that they would like to organise a visit to Earls Hill nature reserve to see where the trees came from and learn about the special habitat.
This is a great legacy for Nature Friendly Schools and a fantastic space to inspire pupils and teachers in their outdoor learning.
Headteacher Steph Dowley explains:
The Nature Friendly Schools team has been pivotal in supporting our whole school vision for combining the best of the outdoors and our commitment to supporting our children’s and families mental health and well-being. The project is extremely well structured with highly qualified professionals supporting the school in every aspect of the developing journey.
The addition of the outside structures created from wood reclaimed from Earls Hill Nature Reserve has been such a boost not only for the children but the staff too! To be involved in the construction of a climbing wall and woven panels as well as the making of chairs gave the children opportunity to work with professionals which they may not have had. They are given the chances to see all sorts of professional roles and jobs they haven’t even thought of.
The classes go out every day and the additional structures have meant that we are able to extend our outdoor offer in many ways. It has also given us ideas of how we can extend our curriculum offer to our families and children in using our team of professional chefs to prepare and cook outside. The children are already thinking of lots of ways to use the equipment – exciting story times being top of the lists.
Thank you Bryony, Ellie and the extended Nature Friendly Schools team – we hope to continue our association with you for many years to come.