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Closed 02/08/2023

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£1,625
raised of £2,000 target by 182 supporters

    Weʼve raised £1,625 to help fund equipment and resources for our Outdoor Learning provision at Sir Alexander Fleming Primary School

    Funded on Wednesday, 2nd August 2023

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    Story

    June 2023 Update. We are so proud to announce that our wonderful children have been named as the RHS Primary School Gardening Team of the Year UK Champions 2023. This is such an honour for us and and the children are so excited. A fantastic boost to their self-esteem and recognition of their endeavours in our grand gardening adventures! Click on the link below to have a look at the RHS page:

    RHS Gardening Team of the Year

    At Sir Alexander Fleming Primary School, the children and staff have been working hard to create a beautiful outdoor environment to grow lifelong connections to nature, learn new life skills, open new opportunities, and nurture our wellbeing. We are looking to raise £2000 to enable us to buy the equipment needed to work with an increase of over 250 children using our outdoor learning spaces on a regular basis.

    Please check out our website to see some of the amazing activities we do:

    Our Outdoor Learning Page

    Ours is a large community primary school serving an area ranked in the top 10% of deprivation nationally. We are always looking for ways to engage with, and give shared ownership to, the children and, recognising the power that being in the great outdoors has, we have been working hard to grow our provision.

    So, it might be useful to know a little about how our journey into gardening and the great outdoors began.

    It all dates to 2019 when we created “The Den”, a key stage 2 nurture provision for children at our school aged from 7 to 11. This was to help a small group of children who had become disengaged with education in their classes. They often presented as being unable to cope in class, often with very disruptive behaviours, and it was clear that school was not a place they wanted to be.

    We started working on topics that would draw them in- often ideas suggested by the children- designed to encourage their enthusiasm, curiosity and make it fun! To see school as a positive experience, to change their mindset, and it worked.

    It was not long before we began to look outdoors (initially for more space- it was a small room in which we were based) and it also allowed us to do messier projects! We cleared a bit of the overgrown school garden and adopted it as our own. And that was where we really began to see the impact. It was obvious being in the garden was good- better than good- it was essential! More relaxed, more space to move in- including getting away from others when a bit of calm was needed- it was with purpose but a much softer focus. We regularly lost track of time in the solitude of our surroundings, learning to switch off and be in the moment. This was also noted around school as the children established stronger, positive relationships with those around them. We were connecting with each other- building a sense of belonging and self- confidence.

    So, we expanded our offer- clearing, repairing, and renovating the garden, or “Allotment” as we renamed it, and creating “The Hazels,” our wildlife garden.

    We were eager to get busy and active in these amazing new areas, but it was not without some challenges.

    Amongst them:

    • issues with the site

    • lack of knowledge and skills

    • routine access for the wider school population

    • funding and resources

    Challenges yes- but also possibilities for wellbeing and growth. Through working together, combining our enthusiasm and drive to make things better, we came to realise that this is the joy of what we do- making connections with each other, learning new skills and sharing experiences- being in a shared moment, creating memories we all carry forward with us.

    We got to work planting trees, trees and more trees. Our “Future Forest” as we named it. We are trying to create a haven for wildlife and a calm oasis for us all to enjoy. We have launched many projects to improve the site and it’s looking great!

    To improve our skills, we connected with the Royal Horticultural Society to achieve our School Gardening Award levels. Our self-confidence shot up as we were learning new skills and finding the excitement in stepping out of our comfort zone in new environments- learning through doing, seeing a task through to completion and finding satisfaction in a job well done. We improved our planting skills, opened an elderflower cordial mini enterprise (which we now hope to do each year), and even built our own polytunnel from scratch. The children loved this one!

    Buoyed by the success we were seeing, our head teacher saw the potential in expanding our outdoor adventure offer to more of the school population. This was in recognition of the fact that all children should have regular access to this. It was amazing how many children asked me daily when it would be their turn in the garden. We often ran one off days or activities, but it needed to be better. We wanted to democratise and normalise going outdoors as part of the curriculum. From September last year, we have made the outdoor sessions available to all ten classes from year 2 to year 6 (over 250 children). One class having two hours each morning and all ten classes attending over a two-week cycle. In this way, we are building to ensure it becomes regular and routine over the whole year- which is brilliant for the children to become tuned in to the passage of the seasons and changes in nature- hopefully going some way to rectify the disconnect to nature we are seeing more of. Regularly engaging in the natural world in childhood has a direct link to the level of engagement as adults.

    Due to this, we have had to think hard about fund raising and sourcing materials for projects. We have an extremely limited budget, barely meeting the needs of our small groups we originally started with, and certainly not for the numbers of children we have now expanded to. However, the provision is certainly needed and the impact it has had on all of us is remarkable. We have become particularly good at finding materials to recycle to use in our projects and have been very lucky in the generous support of materials from local businesses. We have also been very proactive and stepped up with lots of ideas such as competitions like our "Stickman" competition (inspired by the book by Julia Donaldson).

    Crafting wooden items- we made these for our Christmas fair.

    As well as PTA support and grant funding for installing our Fire Pit shelter and a bird feeding area.

    We've also been reaching out to connect with other people, businesses and organisations. This has been fantastic building that wider sense of belonging, for broadening the children’s horizons and opening eyes to opportunities. We have made links with:

    • Master composters

    • renewable energy firms

    • the Fire and Rescue service

    • the Rotary Club

    • local timber suppliers

    • hammock and tarpaulin manufacturers

    • to name a few

    We are launching new projects- such as our Wild Corners project (we are hoping to build lots of Bug Hotels and minibeast houses in tucked away places around the school and community) and Greenwood workshop, as well as working to further improve the biodiversity on our site.

    All this work to put wellbeing, nature and experiential learning at the core of all we do is gathering momentum- at times being steered, but at others just seizing the opportunities and going with the flow. We make mistakes (like when I forgot to turn on the solar irrigation to several of our beds in the polytunnel and we lost the lot- but don’t tell the children! – but we are resilient and it’s helpful to remember the saying that “Perfection is the enemy of progress”- we don’t get bogged down in thinking it has to be perfect- it’s far more exciting to get stuck in and have a go!

    I hope this has been helpful in explaining what we are trying to achieve. Through having the help of our fantastic children, community, and staff we've had the confidence to begin and the patience to let it grow. Now we need some help to see it through to fruition.

    We are looking to raise £2000 to buy equipment for the 250+ children to use in the outdoor spaces, such as tools (for the garden and woodwork areas), science resources, data collecting (e.g., wildlife cameras), cooking equipment (for our campfire sessions) and team building equipment.

    I hope you will be able to help with taking our journey even further by enabling us to provide the resources to make a difference to our amazing children,

    Thankyou.

    Please check out our website to see some of the amazing activities we do:

    Our Outdoor Learning Page

    Updates

    6

    • John Ratcliffe9 months ago
      John Ratcliffe

      John Ratcliffe

      9 months ago

      Hi Everyone, It is with great excitement that I am able to say that our wonderful children at school have been made the RHS Primary School Gardening Team of the Year UK Champions 2023. This is a huge honour for us and recognises the commitment, hard work, resilience and never ending smiles that the children launch at our projects and adventures everyday. I've added the link to the RHS announcement on the Just Giving Page, so please do follow the link and have a look at what the judges say and watch our video. Thank you 😀 Best wishes, John

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    • John Ratcliffe11 months ago
      John Ratcliffe

      John Ratcliffe

      11 months ago
      Update from the Page owner

      It's so great to see this milestone reached. Thank you, everyone, for your support and fingers crossed we reach our final goal🤞

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    • John Ratcliffe1 year ago
      John Ratcliffe

      John Ratcliffe

      1 year ago
      Update from the Page owner

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    1 year ago

    John Ratcliffe started crowdfunding

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    Page last updated on: 7/1/2023 20.16

    Supporters

    182

    • Anonymous

      Anonymous

      Jul 1, 2023

      £5.00

    • Annabel

      Annabel

      Jun 17, 2023

      Amazing. Great work!

      £10.00

    • Joanna lake

      Joanna lake

      Jun 17, 2023

      Sorry it’s not much 🫶🏼🫶🏼

      £10.00

    • Anonymous

      Anonymous

      Jun 17, 2023

      £5.00

    • Anonymous

      Anonymous

      Jun 17, 2023

      £10.00

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      Anonymous

      May 3, 2023

    • Anonymous

      Anonymous

      May 2, 2023

      £5.00

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