In this project the school has developed a single span poly tunnel in the school grounds which is large enough to function as a classroom and which has a combination of deep raised beds for growing and staging for plant experimentation and cultivation to enhance science teaching and learning. Teachers, children and parents are working alongside highly skilled horticulturists and partners from the local nursery who offer specialist skills in different areas of horticulture as a learning environment for science used across the school and by visiting schools.
Each year group will be allocated a raised bed and grow crops based on a carefully thought through planting schedule based on growing season and being able to harvest crops during the school terms. Quick germinating crops are included so that children will have early success to motivate them to persevere and maintain interest.
The range of plants is extensive and will be used in the school kitchen and as well as sold to local people. Tomatoes, broad beans, sweet potatoes, sweetcorn, spring onions, lettuce, carrot, beetroot, spinach, potatoes, celeriac, oregano, thyme, onions will be planted, to name but a few.
Simon has a number of people from the local community who are willing to work alongside pupils, including people to work in this area e.g. horticulturalists, biologists and even a parent who is a plant geneticist.
This project took over 2 years to get this stage, as shown in the photographs; from original submission to AZSTT to completion of the building, outdoor teaching arena and raised beds.
In addition to the building work outdoors; a scheme of work was created in collaboration with staff. Every year group will have science learning materials based on their topics, which incorporate the use of the new outdoor facilities. This material has been closely linked to the local authority assessment process; resulting in innovative and robust science teaching resources across the school. Members of staff were involved in various ways, for example, a Year 4 teacher will be asking her pupils to write persuasive letters to local companies to donate or offer discount on gardening equipment and supplies. Links across different curriculum areas have also been carefully planned.
Clearly the next stage is using the outdoor resource and ensuring that children and teachers take ownership of it. To celebrate the opening of the area, an open day event has been planned and the local community invited. The project aims to create a bridge between school and home, so that children enjoy horticultural experiences at school and want to continue their interest at home with parents and grandparents. As the use of the outdoor area becomes an established part of the curriculum; the intention is to use this as a model of good practice to share with other schools. Another local primary is interested in being able to access the facilities so that their pupils can also have hands on experience and learn and perhaps replicate the approach on a smaller scale.