The importance of exam results in modern education can lead to many schools being preoccupied by getting As, but at Whyteleafe School, recently it is bees that have been the main topic of conversation and focus of interest.
Last year, part-time teacher Celia Rudland - who also happens to be a beekeeper with the East Surrey Bees society - installed a colony in an internal courtyard in the school, with another added this year. Now the school is experiencing the benefit of playing host by harvesting the honey and incorporating the whole experience into the school curriculum.
Year Two teacher Barbara Whiteford, who was leaving the school after many years’ service, donated some money for the area that has become known as the Bee Sanctuary, and now the hives have become a part of school life.
“The project really caught the imagination of the children and become a part of the curriculum for the whole school,” explained head teacher Anthony Marsh.
“Louis Masai, an artist who featured on BBC2’s Springwatch, used his spray paint can skills to decorate the area and pupils from years Five and Six have been learning about how to look after the bees. Even if it’s not a hands-on role, we’ve managed to make sure everyone across
the school is involved by incorporating the project across the whole curriculum, working it into science, maths, literacy, history, R.E and French.”
Weather conditions made beekeeping particularly challenging this year, but the apiarists of Whyteleafe succeeded in producing 10kg of honey from their first hive, which has now been extracted and bottled. “The next task for the children is to design a label for it, then we can sell it,” Mr Marsh explained.
“Then in the spring the process starts again, and another year of Whyteleafe children get to be part of this wonderful project. We’re so glad we invited the bees into our school. They’re become part of the Whyteleafe family.”
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