‘We already had some ideas for making more out of our outdoor space when we were approached by Nature Friendly Schools. With 49.1% of our pupils eligible for free school meals, our primary school was eligible for the project. We applied and were accepted. After speaking to our project

education officer, Andrew, in the autumn term last year, we agreed on an outdoor classroom featuring a fire pit, some hollowed-out trees, an allotment area and a herb garden, as well as an additional firepit near some trees. During the October half-term

break, the teachers set about giving our existing outdoor area a makeover. We repurposed a grass space into a bamboo den and used the pallets to create a bug hotel. Plants donated from a garden centre provided the outline for the closed-off area. Deadwood logs encouraged a bug hotel and provided seating for the children. With permission, we also raided

a nearby skip and repurposed wood, garden waste, and even a bath. Wood from trees that were cut down to open up more usable space will be repurposed for the children. My hope is that pupils will be able to use tools to create tent pegs, sculptures, swing seats, and more. The now-bare area can be

cleared fully, and we can plant wildflowers to attract bees and other insects. The chippings to the side of the area could also form part of the floor of our new outdoor classroom. Andrew has led some excellent

training on outdoor learning. Staff are now more confident and open to the idea of adding outdoor segments to learning, which is a great step forward for our school. We have restarted our outdoor learning sessions, which will provide a regular amount of time that the children are able to spend outdoors across all year groups. My class had their first Forest

School session, which was fantastic. We noted improved communication between the children when undertaking tasks,

and a willingness to look after the area when it was time to tidy up. Children who were initially shy

really came out of their shell when presented with fun, small, achievable tasks. We also saw brilliance in the children’s imaginations as they showed evidence of intuition, such as when they created a scarecrow after I told them that birds like to prey on insects. I can’t believe that we have

done so much in such a short time! My enthusiasm is still as high as it

was at the start, and I am really looking forward to seeing the physical changes around the school. I am hoping we can get all of the classes to do some planting of food and flowers and get everyone enthused to grow.’ Mark Hemmerman, teacher, Stockwell Academy, Hull (372 pupils). Stockwell Academy is part of the Hull Collaborative Academy Trust (HCAT), a family of schools in and around Kingston upon Hull and the East Riding of Yorkshire

‘Staff are now more confident and open to the idea of adding outdoor segments to learning, which is a great step forward for our school’

FundEd SPRING 2021 43

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