Staff, pupils and their families at Hillcroft Primary School in Caterham have been given an end of term treat after the official opening of the school’s new Charles Darwin-inspired garden area.
The Origin of Species author and famed evolutionary scientist lived not far from the school, at Down House in Kent, and used his own gardens as extensive outdoor laboratory, and Hillcroft hopes to inspire the spirit of Darwin amongst its own staff and pupils with the new facility.
The project is the brainchild of Tom Holloway, head of science at Hillcroft and the winner of the 2013-14 Primary School Science Teacher Trust teacher of the year award. He said the opening of the new garden was the culmination of much hard work – but he hoped it would be the springboard for even greater things.
“We’ve always had wildlife habitats at Hillcroft but no real facility for outdoor learning, so we decided to combine the two,” he explained. “We teamed up with local independent school The Hawthorns to secure over £4000 in government funding for the idea, and since the start of the year, we’ve had a series of conservation days for parents and children of both schools, where they’ve been able to help with the project. The turnout has been fantastic, and they’ve helped bring about the results that you see here today. Everyone who’s been a part of it should take real pride in their achievement.”
Mr Holloway went on to explain the reason for choosing Darwin as the theme for the new garden. “Although he’s famed for going to places like the Galapagos Islands, he did a lot of his experimentation and discovery in his own back garden – we want the children of Hillcroft to look upon this garden in a similar light, as a place of both enjoyment and education. You don’t need a shiny fancy laboratory – just a sense of curiosity.”
The garden is divided up into different themed zones, and Mr Holloway said it had been designed as a facility with cross-curricular application. “Although it’s science-themed, we want the whole school to make as much use of it in as many ways as they can,” he explained. “There are areas which can help with literacy and numeracy, and it’s also somewhere that can be used as a leisure facility as well as an outdoor teaching aid. We hope that this garden will change and adapt over the years to suit the needs of the school and the people using it – which is as Darwinian an approach as you can get.”
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