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Grant opens up great outdoors for kids
6:00pm Wednesday 25th September 2013 in News
AN ambitious project which will widen pupils’ choice of outdoor activities at an Ilminster school has received a boost.
Swanmead Community School has won a Wessex Watermark Award of £606 to buy fencing to make its pond safe and return it to use.
The school’s outdoor classroom project is designed to create a curriculum with variety and challenges through horticultural and science-based activities.
As well as a greenhouse and flower beds, it will have an allotment where children will learn to reap what they sow when they bring their vegetables to sell at the local market.
Local gardeners and building firms have been advising the school on the practicalities of making their new outdoor classroom, which is seen as an investment not only for the school but for community groups in the area who will all be able to benefit from it.
Head teacher Mark Walker said: “From September I’d like each child at the school to experience five hours of ‘out-of-classroom’ learning based on gardening, ecology and enterprise.
“We have a magnificent pond eco-system brimming with life and potentia,l but we’ve had to seal it off for safety reasons because it has become overgrown.
“Our Watermark Award has been the great motivator to get the area cleared and put up the fence.
“By spring we hope to have it ready for work in science and geography studies, and I’ll be asking Tamsin Averill, one of Wessex Water’s scientists, for ideas on water ecology and how we can make the pond area as biodiverse as possible.”
Watermark provides funds for environmental projects in the Wessex Water area and celebrated its 20th anniversary in March, during which time more than 800 environmental initiatives have been supported.
Organised by the Conservation Foundation, all projects are judged by a panel chaired by its president, David Bellamy.
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