Environment

Funding level: £5,001 to £10,000

Description

£10,000 would help us to transform our school grounds, re-vamp our Eco-Club and launch our eco-community project in 2019.

West Park Primary School has 330 children and is located to the north of Hartlepool on the border of Teesside & County Durham. Our school has unusually large grounds containing woodland, a pond and a small allotment. We are lucky to have this space but it is underutilised and in need of repair. We believe that if the space can fulfil its potential, it can help our children to fulfil theirs.

As a green flag Eco-school, the school is working hard to maximise use of the outdoor spaces with very limited resources. The full time Eco Site Manager and Eco Coordinator (working 4 hours per week) do their best to maintain the grounds. Outdoor learning takes place when possible but Eco-Club activities must be limited to a small number of children at one time.

Funding could provide better greenhouses, new allotment beds and a suitable shed. Child sized gardening equipment will encourage the children to get stuck in. A covered work-space with benches and seating areas will create an outdoor classroom right next to the allotment. Our children will be able to see the food and herbs they grow used in the school kitchen, or sell the surplus to raise funds for the Eco-Club or donate to local food charities.

There is a raft of evidence to support the wide-range of benefits for children in outdoor learning, healthy eating, food awareness and physical activity. Also, that they lead to healthy lifestyle choices as adults. Hartlepool has high child and adult obesity rates with 41% of year 6 children classed as overweight or obese.
We want to maximise our children’s understanding of environmental issues and set them on a pathway to an environmentally sustainable life. Recycling rates in Hartlepool have declined faster than in all other local authorities in England over the past five years. We will expand on work with local environmental groups to bring in more expertise on environmental issues.

We’d like to introduce new ecology and sustainability measures including water butts and a recycled water irrigation system for the greenhouse, as well as garden and kitchen food waste composting. We will reuse or recycle plastics and other material wherever possible. New bug hotels and habitats will be built to encourage diversity of insects and other wildlife.

The pond quickly overgrows and the banks are often unsuitable for the heavy foot-traffic when children are pond-dipping and exploring the habitat. We would like to build improved perimeter fencing and a decked walkway with a small jetty to enable children to safely get closer to the water. We would also like to put in measures to better manage the vegetation in and around the pond.

We aim to plant an orchard around some existing fruit trees and also to create new garden areas. One idea is to create a coastal garden inspired by the distant view of the sea from parts of the school. A coastal garden could introduce a contrasting sensory experience and will help children to learn about the ecology of coastlines and the maritime history of Hartlepool. It will also further promote well-being as a unique space for learning and relaxation.

We want to open up the project to involve people from the wider community. Inspired by community garden projects across the UK, our after-school Eco-Club sessions will provide ring-fenced time for children to connect with parents, grandparents and volunteers who can share valuable skills and experience to encourage a new generation of gardeners and ecologists. We could also open our grounds for use by other local schools or clubs e.g. Brownies or Cubs.

This fund will help us to create new environmentally sound spaces that the children can connect with. Working with the wider community, we could arm children with knowledge and skills to make great choices for their own futures, for our community and the environment.

Project Video

Friends of West Park Primary School

Moment of Pride

Our school works hard to provide opportunities for all children. The Eco-Club captures their imagination and enthusiasm. This project will transform our school grounds to help hundreds of children to better understand the environment and shape their approach to the environmental challenges ahead.

Location: Hartlepool