Our School Grounds
Over the past few years we have worked hard here at SS Mary & Michael to develop and better use our wonderful school grounds and woodland. This page details the development of our outdoor environment area and the activities that school has undertaken.
An environmental/gardening club is held weekly in the Summer term and the children work very hard at looking after our school environment. Children enjoy voicing their opinions and we like them to know that their opinions are valued. Examples of previous child led projects have included building a colourful and attractive fence around the vegetable patch, painting the playground planters, making the main entrance to school more welcoming by planting brightly coloured flowers, holding a green and yellow non- uniform day to raise money and having a weekly 'Eco' competition in which classes try to be as 'eco-friendly' they can by turning lights off and recycling paper.
Our whole school community is able to look at the projects the children have been involved in and read about Eco-Council meetings on our display board in the school hall. The children in school are all well aware of the developments and, by the very nature of a small school, are able to contribute ideas through the Eco-Council, assemblies or discussions with class teachers and the head teacher.
SS Mary and Michael Catholic Primary School, where we welcome visitors whether they are pupils, staff, the local community, animals, birds or insects. We manage our environment by separating them into different zones, each with a distinct purpose and each managed in a different way to suit that purpose.
Located at the entrance, this area is designed to make each and every visitor welcome when they arrive at school. We have therefore used bright and vivid colours. We have added some features to brighten the dull corners and introduced hanging baskets.
Bees are most welcome around school; they are such an important part of the ecosystem that we have made a special place for them near the pond. We have planted foxgloves for them to collect their pollen; it is a plant which flowers all summer so helps them for the longest possible time. This will mean we have plenty of bees to pollinate our fruit and vegetables, which are grown close by.
In a quiet corner of our schools grounds we have a pond which is devoted to aquatic wildlife. Frog and toads live here, and we often see their tadpoles. The area is nicely sheltered making it a peaceful place. All wildlife needs water so our pond is very important. Children enjoy exploring the pond and pond dipping in lessons!
Our reception class has a very special area, which is outdoors and yet enclosed within the school. This area plays host to a variety of interactive experiences for the youngest pupils in our school. There are areas for growing food, learning about the environment and for play-based learning. We aim to give our children a great start in learning about, and caring for the environment.
Our playground is a busy place and we wanted plants that would withstand heavy pressure. We have planted herbs which look nice and better still, smell nice. Children are encouraged to touch and smell the herbs and appreciate their importance to health and wellbeing.
We believe it is important for children to understand where food comes from and to have the experience of growing plants. Our food zone contains a variety of different crops including potatoes, carrots, peas, beans, onions and lettuce, all home grown and very tasty! We do not use chemicals on our plants. The produce is not wasted but used in the school kitchen. We have also donated our fruit and vegetables to our Church at Harvest time. Our fruit trees are now well established and in the summer are laden with berries and flowers. We appreciate that we must share them with wildlife and have therefore planted plenty.
Creepy Crawly Zone
Bugs and creepy crawlies are vital for biodiversity and we have created lots of bug zones around the school where small animals and insects can feed and breed.
We encourage birdlife in a woodland glade, called the bird zone. It is a secluded spot and we have bird feeders to make a variety of bird species feel most welcome. In addition, we have bird boxes around the school grounds, many of which are regularly used for nesting, and we also plant many types of flowers, vegetables and fruit which benefit a rich array of wildlife life.
The children in school still continue to be involved in the RSPB Big Garden Birdwatch, projects through curriculum time that involve healthy living, recycling, studies of natural art and environmental education.
We are so lucky at this school to have such an array of different habitats. Our wild zones are the woodlands that surround our school field and garden. Over the years, trees have been planted to enhance the look of the area and for the benefit of wild creatures and birds. We leave deadwood piles for animals such as hedgehogs to make their homes and the twigs provide nesting material for birds. We have a number of compost areas. Our stage is a place for acting, our field is a space for sport and our worship area is a place for prayer and reflection.
We are keen to bring the environment into school in a variety of ways. We breed butterflies and hatch ducks and chickens in an incubator when our topics allow. We maximise every opportunity to integrate the environment and outdoor resources into our curriculum and learning programmes. School trips are planned linking to the environment such as Cobble Hey Gardens and Global Renewables. Our grounds are managed and maintained by our gardening club and environmental policies are developed by our eco-council.
We really enjoy having lessons outside and learning about the environment.
We enjoy having visitors come and talk to us about the Environment.
David Bellamy visited school which provided well received profile and interest in all the work we have done at school to date regarding grounds development.