Case Study: Priory Infant School, Ramsgate
The school is situated in the centre of Ramsgate, a coastal town in East Kent. It caters for children from Reception up to Year 2 and has a two classes in each year group. Recently, the school had the size of its grounds reduced to accommodate a new build Children’s Centre and a community Sports Hall, but a successful lottery application has helped to improve the grounds and offset the potential disadvantage of having less space. The school has created an attractive seating area for children, parents and staff to share books. It has tables for eating lunch outdoors, a sloping natural play space with wigwam dens, and a large piece of fixed equipment for challenging physical play. Children spend lots of time outdoors throughout the school day and they help with the care and feeding of the school hens –as well as enjoying collecting the eggs! Outdoor Matters visited the school to see one of the lottery funded initiatives; the wildlife and gardening area which is used every week by children of all ages. Despite the distraction of a non-uniform day for Sports Relief the children in Reception were keen to get weeding –and catch up on the progress of the frog spawn and newts.
EFFECTIVE OUTDOOR PRACTICE:
The wildlife and gardening area is attractive and well organised, it has a secluded peaceful atmosphere and has plenty of trees shrubs and flowers –as well as a bench and seating area for watching the world go by. The school has used lottery funding to provide a partly glazed shed that offers secure storage for tools and equipment, as well as a sheltered place to germinate seedlings. The garden has been equipped with good quality essential gardening equipment including child sized brooms, watering cans, gardening aprons and gloves, trowels, rakes, and kneelers. The water butt and composting facility ensure that the garden is sustainably maintained. Children can independently access the tools they need, and there are plenty to go round so everyone can be weeding at once! They tend two raised beds and also look after the whole area by weeding and sweeping paths. Children have supervised access to the recently re-lined pond which is already brimming with newts and frogspawn. Butterfly boxes and bird feeding stations attract more visitors to the garden and provide children with first hand opportunities to observe birds and insects in their natural habitat. With the growing season underway children spent time enthusiastically clearing the raised beds of weeds and raking the soil in preparation for planting this year’s crops.
BENEFITS AND POSITIVE IMPACT:
Children are engaged and purposeful as they tend the garden. They concentrate and show sustained interest in planting and wildlife. The staff spend time with individual children and have relaxed conversations –taking time to answer children’s questions and to highlight points of interest –such as the blue tit feeding on the newly provided fat balls. Children work together happily and gardening tools are handled safely. They demonstrate concern for their environment and are fascinated by the pond which is full of newts and frogspawn. Children avidly watch the pond and are quick to spot newts surfacing for air.