Gaynor Lewis, YPTE's Roots to Green Living Education Officer for the project ran the gardening club at the school every Thursday. Parents kindly donated materials, soil, seeds and spades, enabling the pupils to plant sunflowers, lettuce, carrots, beans and tomatoes. The children were in charge of caring for them as they grew and they really enjoyed harvesting and eating them too!
The children then grew and sold the following year's produce to raise money that would make the project sustainable. The children also planned a bug house and wildflower meadow.
YPTE provided funding through Roots to Green Living for the school to buy planters, compost seeds and gardening tools to really encourage the children to take an interest in gardening. The project was designed to show how even a small and confined playground space could be put to use to grow flowers and vegetables and it really worked!
Teacher Julian Welsh said that through Roots to Green Living, the children gained experiences that they could not have accessed via the school curriculum. Few of them got similar experience at home and the practical activities and skills learned from them were of great benefit to many of the children. They became very protective of their growing space and encouraged other children to show respect and care for the plants there.
Gaynor worked with the children to achieve a Gold award for Bath in Bloom in the summer of 2012!
Gaynor helped the staff with planning and facilitation of an increased amount of environmental education throughout the school. For example: for a rainforest project, the children made tropical forest shelters. The children from years 4 and 5 were set the challenge of making a rainproof shelter using things from home in two hours. These were tested with buckets of water! The exercise was such a success that the school has now incorporated this project into the curriculum.
Gaynor held a compost assembly for the school, bringing examples of what should and shouldn’t be in compost into the assembly. Previously, there had been problems with items such as a nappy being found in the compost bins! Following the assembly, Years 5 & 6 cleaned the bins and sorted the compost. Composting now works really well!
Gaynor prepared growing areas with all year groups - digging compost and planting. As a result of Roots to Green Living, the school created a health and safety notice board for the pond, a pond use schedule and installed a safety hoop. Gaynor worked on this with school management and now the teachers and children feel confident to use the pond more often.
Gaynor also supported School Environment Days, where all of the children were outdoors all day. The activities included a daisy chain competition, bug hotels, weaving, identifying plants etc.
Funding provided by YPTE through Roots to Green Living enabled the school to create a quiet reflection area in the playground. This incorporated a mosaic, which each of the children was involved in creating. The mosaic depicted the area's mining past and served as a reminder to the children of their local heritage.
Gaynor also assisted on some visits outside the school, including several walks and expeditions into the local countryside.
Teacher Cathie Lampert reported that support from YPTE had increased the staff's subject knowledge and confidence when teaching outdoors. This had enabled week-long Forest School Weeks, when children were learning outdoors all week.
Gaynor held planning meetings with every class when she first started visiting the school. The top of the list was ‘make the pond useable’. So she organised this over 3 months, gradually weeding the area and clearing the pond with different groups of children. The pond was then replanted by the pupils and is now being used much more.
Gaynor also worked with pupils choosing plants and planting planters around the grounds for the Jubilee. This included painting and planting recycled tyres as Olympic rings.
In addition, Gaynor helped the children put hedge plants donated by the Woodlands Trust into planters. Gaynor and the school plan to use a parents’ working day to transplant these into the ground.
Funding from YPTE enabled the school to pay for specialist training for a member of staff, who was then able to disseminate this training to the rest of the staff. It also allowed a training day to take place for the whole staff and meant that new activities and lessons could be planned both for the school grounds and for local open spaces.
The school held en environmental 'celebration' day, during which all of the children took part in a wide range of activities around the school grounds. Roots to Green Living had wide-ranging impacts across the school and allowed for the creation of new, sustainable environmental areas, while improving both children and teachers' knowledge of their local environment and of global environmental issues.
Outdoor learning was already very much integrated into Batheaston Primary's curriculum before Roots to Green Living got involved, with every class working outdoors at least twice a week. The school had already created a spectacular 50m long earth sculture of a newt containing an amphitheatre and tunnel. They had also built a beautiful straw-bale classroom in the school grounds with a wildflower roof and solar panels.
Gaynor attended staff meetings to talk about the importance of outdoor learning and helped the children and teachers to further develop outdoor learning, using their excellent resources. For example, planting the pond with plants provided by local authority with help from parents (on Saturdays) and monitoring the pond over time using curriculum based surveys and reporting, producing a graph of changes over 6 months.
Funding from Roots to Green Living enabled the school to buy a set of digital cameras which the children use to document their activities in the school grounds. The cameras have facilitated classroom-based research, for example by allowing the children to take photos of the minibeasts they found and identifying them using guide books in the clasroom.
Gaynor's advice and planning really helped the staff to design a cross-curricular programme to ensure that the school's new wetland and pond areas could be used as part of the school's environmental education provision.
Gaynor involved herself with the existing gardening club and helped them choose plants that would grow successfully in the school grounds. Gaynor helped them apply for ‘Grow Your Own Loaf’ but unfortunately the wheat didn’t grow! There was a very big problem with slugs. Gaynor helped the children explore different solutions for this e.g. eggshells, beer traps etc.
The school now has a dedicated gardening zone, which was supported by Gaynor and will be maintained by staff at the school. Gaynor worked with children to clear the existing beds and helped the teachers and children to create a new planting plan.
Gaynor helped all the classes in the school create miniature hanging baskets using old milk bottles in an intiative that proved to be extremely popular.
Gaynor also helped the Eco team to plan and build a ‘Bug City’. Gaynor suggested local estate agents provide sponsorship and one has already come forward. She also helped the children with the collection of materials which are now ready for use.
YPTE helped the school to create a new school farm, buying chickens, outbuildings, seeds, tools and other equipment. The farm aims to provide all the children at the school with the experience of growing their own food and caring for livestock.
Teacher Paula Malone said that the activities provided by Gaynor, along with her expertise and assistance in planning environmental work at the school had been of great value.
Roots to Green Living had a big impact at Holymead Infants, with Gaynor helping to move and plant up new raised beds for vegetables and flowers. The pond area was completely cleared and is now thriving. YPTE provided oxygenating plants to ensure that the pond stayed self-sustaining and self-supporting to a greater extent than previously.
The school has set up a nature trail in the school grounds, with a wild flower meadow and lots of bug houses and nest boxes to encourage wildlife. YPTE provided funding to assist with the purchase of wildlflower seeds, animal sculptures and seating for the children to use in the woodland area.
YPTE also assisted in providing plants for the new sensory garden area, which the children enjoy visiting.
Growing produce was a big part of Roots to Green Living at Holymead, with the children planting, caring for and either eating the resulting produce or selling it to the parents at the school's annual Summer Fairs!
Gaynor became a valued member of the school team, bringing new ideas, energy and advice. Many of the children have carried on growing flowers and vegetables at home and have encouraged their parents to get involved too!
This is a small school in a fairly rural area. Gaynor initially focused on getting the children outside - nest building, making ice mobiles (leaves in ice cubes hung on trees) and other projects. She worked with the children on species identification around the school grounds and helped children from year 4/5 to design a treasure hunt using compass directions. They then used the trail with their parents (to encourage parental involvement).
In addition, every class planted their own hanging baskets - with a carrot in the middle of each one! Gaynor helped the children clear the four vegetable beds and helped replant one with carrots, tomatoes and lettuce. The children have since harvested these and taken the produce home.
The school has a great orchard area and a pond too. YPTE helped by providing funding to enable the purchase of a fence to go around the pond for safety and decking that allowed children to go pond dipping in safety.
Funding from YPTE helped the school to buy the polytunnel the children and staff wanted. Thay have created a ‘mini-enterprise’ to give the children an awareness of the natural world whilst also making money for the school. Gaynor wrote an application to Wessex Water for funds - and achieved a grant of £150 towards the polytunnel.
The children now grow and sell fruit, vegetables and flowers. The children planned and costed the project themselves and learned about making a simple business plan, which was then linked to Maths and other subjects in the curriculum.
Gaynor also worked with reception children to plan and build bug houses - the children were keen to build 5 small houses rather than a bug hotel! The children loved it and kept making miniature bug houses of their own accord once the project was completed. Their curiosity has been aroused and they are all now keen to spot and investigate minibeasts whenever they have the opportunity.
Amanda Audritt, a teacher at the school said "Gaynor has been a fantastic source of support and knowledge. She has enabled us to utilise our facilities and given us much advice and confidence in the starting of our own enterprise. She engages brilliantly with the pupils and is always able to suggest stimulating ideas to enthuse the children."
"Without her support and guidance we would never have got our own business off the ground. We have now purchased our own polytunnel and have a profit-making business. Gaynor's support, advice and hands-on approach really pushed us forward and we are proud to have been involved with Roots to Green Living. I couldn't say enough about how brilliant working with Gaynor was. We will certainly miss her support."