St Cuthbert’s Wildlife Garden and Mini Beast Motel
06 July 2012
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We planned to develop a wildlife garden in order to create a wild space within the urban area of North Shields where our school is based. The main motivation for this was to improve the school grounds by creating a safe area for the children to observe wildlife. Our idea was that this site could be used by the children as a space in which they could learn about the environment and create habitats for wildlife. This could be used to enhance different areas of the curriculum.
Delivering the project and linking it to the curriculum
The project was delivered as part of our schools Eco-campaign to involve the whole school community. We were also fortunate to have the assistance of the wider community. The project took the form of different phases of development in planning, designing and implementing our ideas.
Getting the pupils involved
Children in different classes were given the opportunity to plan and design the garden in the form of a competition. The Eco Warrior Team collated ideas and the whole school was involved in making suggestions about what the children would like to see in the garden and what ideas were best in terms of the impact on the environment.
The only funding we received was generated by fundraising activities through the school.
The parents in school participated in ‘Eco Action’ days when the whole of the school community, families, staff and other members of the community helped create the garden. These days were hugely successful and enjoyable. We were also fortunate to have a very kind team of helpers in the form of construction workers who were involved in the project making improvements to the North Shields Metro facilities.
Members of this construction team employed by May Gurney used appropriate heavy machinery which they brought onto our school site to the delight of the children and with their support we were able to create an area for our school pond habitat. We also had the support of grandparents who sourced re-cycled materials which we were able to use to create our ‘mini beast hotel’. We were lucky enough to have a parent with excellent joinery skills, a great asset when constructing fencing in different areas of the garden, particularly in the development of the pond area.
Initially, our challenge was to develop the stony ground as a wildlife habitat and a pond habitat. We were able to overcome this with the support of the wider community at no cost to our school.
Benefits of being an Eco-School
There is no question that this wildlife area has made a big improvement to our school grounds. It has become an asset and a useful tool to use when covering different areas of the curriculum.
The children have demonstrated a caring attitude towards the environment. They have taken on responsibilities for their own environment, a renewed ownership and appreciation of different species and how these must be monitored and protected. As a result, the children express concern and have shown a deeper spiritual understanding reflecting the ethos of our school together with improved moral values relating to the environment.
Measuring the impact
The impact of the project is monitored through regular communication of ideas, thoughts, and feelings through Eco representatives during meetings, school newsletters and the school blog. We have collected evidence in the form of children’s views recorded through writing, photography and video film making.
Using the Pod’s resources
We participated in the Switch Off Fortnight campaign.
Educational resources used
We are involved in the Morrisons gardening scheme, the potato council activities and competitions, the Royal Horticultural Society Campaign for School Gardening and the Co-operative Society Green Revolution Campaign.
This project seemed fairly daunting when we first set out as we are a small school in an urban environment. However, I would advise any school to take a risk and put in the effort because the result is certainly worthwhile and the impact on and benefits for the children are immeasurable.
I would advise schools to involve parents and the community in any project as it has a very positive impact on morale, communication and good will. We continue to receive communication and support from our school community as the project grows.
Hopefully, we might enter our school garden in national competitions and we are constantly developing different habitats. We would also like to develop a global perspective and create a link with one or more schools in different parts of the world in order to exchange ideas about wildlife schemes.
Local Authority support
No. During our assessment for the Green Flag Award the school was complemented on the fact that we had achieved so much independently. The Local Authority advisor also commented on how surprised they were that we had accomplished so much without their support.