Students at Cordwalles School in Camberley have been given the perfect excuse for staring out of the window during lessons – they are keeping an eye on their work.
Under the guidance of Year Three teacher Allison Hickling, pupils across the school have been getting their hands dirty as part of the Edible Landscape project, which encourages youngsters to take a hands-on interest in the maintenance and change of their physical environment.
“It’s really important that children have an understanding of the world around them, and particularly where food comes from, so this is the perfect opportunity,” explained Ms Hickling. “We started out with a Ground Force Day, where Years Five and Six and some parent volunteers cleared the beds ready for planting. Since then, each week a different class has been responsible for planting flowers and vegetables, and now each class is given the task of looking after the bed outside their classroom window, making sure it is maintained and kept in order."
Cordwalles is a member of the GLF schools group, a Surrey-based multi-academy trust which runs over a dozen schools across the south east, and is based on a model of strong collaborative working.
Its gardening scheme was dreamed up by head teacher Daryl Power, and Ms Hickling says what the pupils have done so far is only the start of things. “In the spring, the whole school will plant a whole range of vegetables, and we can incorporate the activities right across the curriculum, to increase the engagement with and understanding of the process we’re involved in,” she explained.
It is not just visitors to the school who have been impressed by the work done by Cordwalles’s junior gardeners. So far, the school has passed two levels of the Royal Horticultural Society’s School Gardening programme, and Ms Hickling is keen for that progress to continue.
“The next steps for the RHS programme are to grow a range of vegetables, encourage wildlife, get used to using tools and then use the produce that the children have managed to grow,” she said. “It’s a long term project, and one which has really caught the imagination of
the pupils doing it, so it’ll be great fun keeping it going to the end of the school year.”
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