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St Mary's Catholic Primary School

This is our school, let peace dwell here

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St Mary's Catholic Primary School

This is our school, let peace dwell here

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Our Green Initiative

St Mary's entered the KCSP Green Initiative Competition. Multiple year groups spent time thinking about how the school could become greener and how we could renovate new outdoor areas. As a school, we compiled these ideas and submitted our proposal to the trust. We found out, that out of the 23 schools that entered, we were shortlisted in the top six schools. 

 

The next stage of the process was that three children were interviewed by Anne-Marie Whittle (Trust CEO), Michael Powis (Chair of the Trust Board) and Emma Johnstone (Finance and HR Assistant). The three children did amazingly well and explained each step of our proposal.

 

Shortly afterwards, we discovered that, because of the hard work of our children and the brilliant ideas that they came up with, the school is receiving £3000 to put the plans into action.

 

The children and staff are excited to see the school become greener and to be able to learn outside even more!

 

Please have a look at the wonderful work the children did!

 

 

Green Initiative Competition 2022 Overview

 

At St Mary’s, our children have long been environmentally aware. In recent years, they have participated in No Plan B campaigns and protests at our local harbour, an art exhibition about plastic pollution and engaged in forest school/outdoor lessons. We have a small garden on the school site, where we have a Forest School area and a space for outdoor learning. Our school council sells fruit at break-time to Key Stage 2 pupils, and we support our local food bank via the Saint Vincent de Paul Society.

 

We have a relatively small site, but it does include outside areas specific to most year groups, varying in ‘style’. Last year, Year 3 created an outdoor classroom where the children were able to try their hand at growing various plants – various vegetables, fruit and herbs, as well as the ubiquitous sunflowers! Had the pandemic been less present, we’d have liked to sell our produce to parents.

 

The Green Initiative Competition has come at a great time for us. We would really like to further the environmental interests of the children hand in hand with improving sustainability, helping our local community more and improving the learning of our children with regard to privilege and disadvantage.

 

We are currently looking at restructuring the school and this will mean that some year groups will subsequently be moving. This will perfectly coincide with setting up green areas for the children to care for and make their own in the new school year.

 

The Plan

 

We put the competition information to children across the school, engendering lively discussion and much excitement. Many ideas were suggested, but the recurring lines of thought were around recycling and re-using, growing more plants, using the produce better and donating more to the community. From the suggestions and ideas of the pupils, a plan was formulated to get growing happening across the school.

 

                         GO GREEN       -     GROW      -      GIVE

 

In brief, we grow and use our own produce, donate surplus or profits, recycle by re-using rainwater and food waste for compost

 

Each year group has a specific growing area and undertakes the commitment to grow edible produce (amongst other plants)

 

  • Year groups with a limited outside area will grow produce in window boxes. This will have the added benefit of educating our children about the homes of others in the UK – for example, blocks of flats in cities. This would really raise awareness about the difficulties other children may face and the different lives other UK children may have. Our school is not in a disadvantaged area, we are also 5 minutes from the beach. It would be fair to say that not all our children appreciate the privilege of this local environment or that others are quite different.

 

  • Fruit and vegetables will be sold by the School Council at break-time, meaning we will no longer need to buy in fruit and vegetables. Any surplus will be donated to the food bank or could be sold to parents.

 

  • Children will manage the growing and gardening in their area with adult supervision as appropriate. Our growing will be year round as the children have already researched what can be grown throughout the different seasons and a rough schedule for when things should be sown and harvested.

 

  • Children suggested solar panels to power the propagators and heat greenhouses when appropriate, maybe even to reduce our reliance on standard electricity in general.

 

  • Compost bins will be placed on the playground and appropriate food waste will be transferred to our compost bin for future use on our plants.

 

  • Extra water butts will be installed so that the plants can be watered with rainwater and not further increase our water bill.

 

  • We would like to donate flowers that we grow to Our Lady Immaculate Church for displays.

 

Additional Educational Needs:

 

It is well-known that gardening and outdoor learning is of huge benefit to the wellbeing and development of all children and that this is particularly true for many children with AEN. We would like to develop our outdoor growing classrooms to incorporate plentiful sensory experiences – chamomile lawns, water walls, chimes and so on – in order to support wellbeing and engagement of all our children whilst simultaneously helping our school and the wider community with the Green – Grow – Give plan.

 

The children have spoken about putting well-being benches in the different garden areas for children to have time when it is needed.

 

Links to curriculum

 

This will not just be for a gardening club. Children over the last few years have enjoyed learning outside and understand the benefits of doing so. This can mean that we can link our outside areas with all aspects of the curriculum and make learning more hands on and engaging for the children.

 

What would the money be spent on?

Recycling bins

Water butts

Compost

Plant containers where recycled pots not suitable (e.g. size)

Solar panels

Water walls and other elements to heighten sensory experience

Benches

Raised water beds

Window boxes

Green houses Propagators

General equipment (trowels, spades, kneeling pads, seeds, watering cans etc.)

Raised beds

Fencing

Netting

Pupil Voice

 

Attached are examples of the ideas of our pupils which have been combined here

 

 

 

 

 

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