News and blog

From our Outdoor Learning Coordinator

From our Outdoor Learning Coordinator

Nature is a key part of our community as it is where we live. It is integral to our community and can influence so many parts of our daily lives. Yet, it is the part that we often neglect to include or to look after.

Image by Christina T. Year 11

There are so many nature-based events that bring people together and ones that create new communities. This is something that we are proud to develop at St Mary’s. It is essential that students are involved in our activities as this is how they will benefit the most. None of this would be possible without our wonderful gardeners – Sarah and Philip.

Community produce stall

We have been very excited to see the community produce stall flourishing this year. This is a stall to share our love of gardening and fresh produce with our community to avoid waste and to bring joy. There have been lots of seeds and seedlings swapped. We applied to Cultivating Change for a range of seeds again this year and are very grateful to them for their donation.

Gardening Club members have been busy growing vegetables and putting them on the stall. Students, staff and parents can pick up any produce from the stall and bring in produce at a later date if they can.

Gardening Club and Eco Committee

This has continued every Thursday lunchtime with our wonderful gardeners Sarah and Philip. We have been planting seedlings and caring for the plants we have sowed.

The Sensory Garden (pictured) has developed even further and now has signs and windchimes. Some fox cubs were seen in it this term! We are very proud of this resource and hope it will help to support student wellbeing. We are aiming to open it officially next term. We are also excited to be planning alongside the Eco Committee to develop Ecobrick structures for this area and a proposed sensory tunnel.

Outdoor Learning Hub

This space has been used a lot during Summer Term. Many departments are booking it and it is well equipped with teaching materials and fun resources that can be incorporated into lessons. It is a multi-functional space that can be used in all pastoral and academic aspects of school life. The students have loved spending time here, as a space for them to get away from technology - providing an area of calm. We have also added new outdoor furniture that students are using during breaks and at lunchtime.

It is lovely to see students enjoying our outdoor space (including hula hooping) and blankets have been added so no one can complain about the weather. We also have a fire pit that we can use for forms and pastoral activities. It is so exciting!

Training and RHS School Gardening Awards

We have applied for the RHS School Gardening Awards. We have already passed Level 1 and have applied for Level 2. Watch this space!

I was also grateful to attend a course called ‘Roots to Wellbeing*’ at Cambridge University Botanical Gardens. The course is run by the RHS and I found it inspiring. I met so many staff form other schools around the UK and we all shared our stories. It was full of activities to use in school with the students and I can't wait!

Julia Hutchinson, Outdoor Learning Co-ordinator

Return to Magnolian

*Roots to Wellbeing helps teachers in primary and secondary schools support children and young people’s wellbeing through growing and nature. Developed in collaboration with Place2Be, the course explores the evidence-based links between plants, nature and wellbeing, and highlights opportunities to support children’s wellbeing in schools through this learning.