The Opening of our School Pond and Reflection Learning Area
This week we held our Grand Opening of our newest areas for outdoor learning in our school. It has been an exciting project that started in 2021 with an email from Matt Howell, who was soon to be one of our parents.
Matt wanted to support an outdoor project in memory of his wife Lucy, who had loved the outdoors and nature. His daughter was about to start at our school and family and friends had raised lots of funds to support outdoor areas that the family had liked to visit. We talked about the biggest area that had been in disrepair at our school which was our pond.
That is when the fun started. Matt's friends and family came to the school on a weekend and with staff, cleared the pond area. It was very overgrown and wild! We took a lot of bags of overgrown thorns away and then looked at the pond that was left in the middle. Sadly, we could not rescue this part at all. Matt and I met with the Hampshire and Isle of Wight Wildlife Trust to talk about what would be best to create the perfect area for pond life to live
We then called Sam Crutchfield and Ian Gower from Vitaplay. Sam had worked with us for many years, creating all the amazing outdoor learning areas we have at BWIS. (He was very used to me drawing ideas out on paper!). We worked together on what the pond could look like, and how amazing it would be for our children. The staging was put in, and the new pond area made. We then had to wait for the wildlife to come back. Matt's family and friends have come to clear areas and keep the pond in shape.
Whilst we were waiting for the pond to grow and attract the wildlife again, our PTA had been busy raising funds to help us develop our outside area. We wanted a special area that could be multi-purpose; where children could sit and have a place to reflect quietly at playtimes, but could also be used as a teaching area outdoors, shielded from the elements. The concept of 'The Nest' was born!
When working with Sam and Ian on this design, we also talking about rejuvenating our story circle, and this became part of the project too. We didn't have quite enough money for the whole project, but through a £500 grant from the Co-op, our small Capital Fund budget and the generous donation from the PTA, we were able to visualise our dream.
So on a sunny day in May, this week, we opened our 3 new learning areas. All the school came to celebrate, one of our governors, the PTA, with Chairs past and present, as well as Matt and his family. Mr Ritchie Latham came from the Parish Council to cut the ribbon and a lovely afternoon was had by all.
We are so grateful to everybody who have helped us raise the funds for this venture. Our Trailbazer Curriculum leads us outdoors throughout the week and these new areas will enhance our children's learning spaces even more. Thank you to everybody who have made the project such a success and for the Howell family for continuing to help us maintain this special area. All good things are, indeed, wild and free.