The construction of the school garden is well under way. New beds for growing fruit, vegetables and flowers have been installed, alongside tables for working outdoors, a tree seat and a seating area with fire-pit. It should all lead to an exciting outdoor curriculum.
A greenhouse is also on the list for installation next term. Time to get planting kids!
Last year we began working with Louise Carr, one of our parents, on a project to develop the garden area at the front of the school. Louise works for Akzo Nobel and had successfully bid for a grant from them to develop the Infant School Garden in 2013.
In school, Mrs McCann ran a competition where each child drew their ideal garden. Some of their ideas were used in the final plan.
To get the project under way, a team of volunteers from Akzo Nobel, School and the Community, gave up a Saturday to dig out overgrown thorny bushes, cut back trees, dig up paths and clear away general debris. The children had great fun collecting rubbish in the wheelbarrow and dumping it near the car park for collection. The flower beds were weeded and filled with fresh soil and by the end the garden looked great. We are very grateful to everyone who came to help.
We have now learnt that our bid has been successful and we are to receive £7506. With this we will buy a greenhouse, seating, more raised beds and a fire-pit. We are all looking forward to using the outdoor space for more exciting lessons.
Our garden project has been recognised as AkzoNobel’s project of the month and was published on the Company website. Here’s what they had to say:
Project of the Month – November
Teaching young minds to change the world!
21 R+D volunteers created outdoor learning facilities for the children at East Boldon Junior School.
Inspiring today’s children to care for their environment and its resources is an important step in ensuring they will go on to protect our planet.
Louise Carr, technology manager at the Protective Coatings site in Felling, Tyne & Wear, UK knew her daughter’s school was keen to do so but lack the necessary resources and funding.
A keen supporter of East Boldon Junior School, she decided to appeal to her colleagues for help in making a real difference to the school’s facilities and took on the role of Project Coordinator.
“The school was built in 1967 and teaches around 240 pupils aged from 7 to 11,” explained to Louise. “One of the employee volunteers actually attended it back in the 1960s and commented how it hasn’t changed at all – the classrooms and dining area are exactly the same. Schools in the UK have very limited resources and don’t have the funds to create more diverse learning environments.”
The school already had an outdoor classroom where children could grow seeds and learn about the food chain, and regularly held activities to teach them about waste and recycling. But more needed to be done so that a more extensive programme could be implemented.
The children took part in a competition to design their ideal garden, with suggestions including vegetable patches, bird houses, bug hotels and using old boots as planters. Using their ideas, Louise then worked closely with one of the teachers, Mrs McCann, to draw up plans and approached the Community Program for financial support.
“I think it’s vital to capture young children’s minds and imaginations – they are the inventors of the future. If we can plant the seed for them to start thinking about the world’s resources and environment now, who knows what great things they might achieve?” said Louise.
It was decided that a greenhouse and raised beds would be installed, along with a recycling area and composter, seating and also a fire pit which would help with studies of the Stone Age period. A day was arranged for the initial work to be carried out by 21 AkzoNobel volunteers, who were joined by a group of 30 parent volunteers, school staff, children, and the school dinner ladies were also there to provide refreshments.
“We cleared a stone circle area to provide space for the fire pit and unearthed some lovely stone footpaths that were overgrown,” said Louise. “We renovated raised beds and installed new ones, cleared old shrubs and roots, and reshaped a shrub that was meant to be in the shape of the school emblem.”
The parents and children have agreed to meet three times a year to maintain the area and equipment, ensuring the project is sustainable. As well as organising these sessions, Louise is arranging a regular workshops based around chemistry and the environment to encourage the children to think about a career in that area.
“I am so proud of my colleagues – they gave up their own time to help me personally and for that I am so grateful. I find it astonishing that people can be so generous with no reward for themselves,” concluded Louise. “This was our fifth project, and the first where we managed to get employees from other SMUs involved – we now have volunteers from Protective coatings, Yacht and Marine. It’s helped us all to understand what is important in our own and each other’s lives and we have a much stronger, tighter-knit team thanks to our community work.”
Mrs McCann, the teacher who worked closely on the plans with Louise added, “We are so grateful to AkzoNobel for their support, It will make a huge difference to the outdoor experiences the children have. It will enrich the curriculum and bring learning about the environment to life.”