When Ms Anna Griggs was appointed Headteacher at Montgomery Church in Wales School, she explained to the School Council that she wanted to create more opportunities for outdoor learning, and to build on the work already started at the school and its allotment, by developing an area in the school field.
Having secured Awards for All lottery funding, a forest school site was created, with support from Fran, a Montgomery resident who runs the Woodland Pack Company, and Martin and colleagues from Cope Community. With pupils having created plans and contributed ideas, the different activity zones created included a secure pond, mud kitchens, a seating/cooking area, a stage area, a bug hotel, stepping stones and some den building areas.
Over recent weeks, work has taken place to create a growing area, including recycled plastic raised beds, and to begin a sensory herb garden - all with materials and labour donated by friends of the school, parents and local businesses. During lockdown, the school Eco Committee has been working on identifying which crops to grow. Russell and Ade from Russell Francis kindly donated and delivered three bags of excellent topsoil, and Derwen Garden Centre and Morrisons Welshpool, have provided plants and seeds.
Headteacher Anna Griggs said, “I have a real passion for outdoor learning. It is an essential part of the new curriculum, but it is even more important during the COVID19 crisis. We are using the outdoors to help safeguard children whilst providing health and wellbeing opportunities alongside rich learning opportunities.”
The next phase includes erecting a metal shed for storage. Whilst the components are already on site, the school needs to work out how to complete the construction whilst maintaining social distancing. The outdoor learning site will be available for pre-school children to use as well as learners from the school, and there may be opportunities for some community use in the future.
Once the site is complete, the school plans to run a competition to name the area, which will then have a grand opening. Ms Griggs said, “We look forward to inviting the people who have enabled this project to happen so that the children can say a huge thank you.”