Sustainable school grounds can provide a valuable teaching and learning resource for teachers and pupils.
School grounds that contain a wide range of resources meet not only the needs of science and geography, but also those other curriculum subjects including mathematics, english art and music.
We have suggested some simple steps to help pupils, parents, teachers and staff work together to develop and sustain their school grounds and promote their use in all curriculum areas.
School Grounds Projects
Eco Schools - School Grounds Topic Area:
The Eco Schools programme encourages schools to use their school grounds as a tool for teaching and learning, to create habitats, to provide a variety of experiences and for recreation and exercise.
Schools Wildlife Partnerships:
The Schools Wildlife Partnership is an outdoor learning initiative developed and delivered by the Gwent Wildlife Trust. It has been developed to help Gwent schools meet the outdoor learning elements of the new Foundation Phase in Wales and to encourage young people's interest in their natural environment. For more information visit www.gwentwildlife.org
BBC Breathing Places Schools:
Join the BBC Breathing Places schools campaign and turn your school into a wildlife haven. Every term they will provide you with a simple 'do one thing' activity for you to enjoy. Whether you are a wildlife enthusiast or absolute beginner, you'll get all the support and resources you'll need. visit www.bbc.co.uk/breathingplaces/schools to register and get started.
Forest Schools Scheme:
Forest Schools has been developing throughout Wales since 1999, based on a Danish model adapted by Bridgewater College.
The Forest Schools Scheme offers children and young people opportunities to develop confidence and self-esteem through hands on learning experiences in a local woodland environment. Through mastering small achieveble tasks the children's self esteem and independence skills develop. For more information visit the Forest Schools website http://forestschoolassociation.org
Outdoor Learning Wales:
Outdoor Learning Wales is a national network, drawing expertise, knowledge and inspiration from a range of partners, leaders and educators. Outdoor Learning Wales (OLW) aims to increase the understanding, appreciation and sustainable use of Wales' natural environment.
Visit the Outdoor Learning Wales website www.outdoorlearningwales.org/home to find out more about how you can get involved and learn about the natural environment.
The Woodland Trust usually give out free tree packs to schools, communities and youth groups. Visit the Woodland Trust website www.woodlandtrust.org.uk for more details.
Big Schools Garden Birdwatch:
The Big Schools Birdwatch is a free activity for schools and youth groups throughout the UK, which is run every year in January and February. By observing the birds that visit your school grounds you will be helping the RSPB monitor UK bird numbers. A free teachers activity pack is available. There are also loads of information and resources available to help you carry out this activity with your class. Visit www.rspb.org.uk/discoverandenjoynature/discoverandlearn/schoolswatch to register on line and receive your free school activity pack.
National Botanic Garden of Wales:
Sustainability is at the heart of everything we do at the National Botanic Garden of Wales. The Education Department offer a range of courses for pupils and teachers that focus on sustainability including planning allotments, thinking about everyday choices, Fairtrade and a trail of our alternative energy sources. For more information please take a look at our website www.gardenofwales.org.uk/learning or give the Education Department a call on 01558 667150.
School Grounds Support and Advice
For support and advice on sustainable school grounds in the Caerphilly county borough, please contact:
Andy Wilkinson, Senior Environmental Education Ranger, CCBC
Tel: 01443 815546, Email: WILKIA@caerphilly.gov.uk
Margaret Iles, Biodiversity Officer, CCBC
Tel: 01443 866616, Email: ILESM@caerphilly.gov.uk
David Beveridge, Environmental Awareness Officer, CCBC
Tel: 01495 247962, Email: BEVERD@caerphilly.gov.uk
Top Tips for Sustainable School Grounds
Involve as many people as possible in the development of your school grounds
Develop a habitat area and monitor the wildlife in your school grounds
Develop a wildlfower meadow - it doesn't need much maintenance and will encourage lots of wildlife into the school grounds
Develop an outdoor classroom
Develop an outdoor site containing trees, shrubs, flowers, water, light and rocks to explore a variety of topics including sustainable development, biodiversity and weather
Develop tarmac areas by introducing raised beds, hanging baskets and tyre planters - remember there are always ways to improve your school grounds
Reuse items to make unusual features, such as car tyres as planters and plastic milk bottles as bird feeders
Remember to work with the grounds maintenance team to make sure that they don't destroy your hard work by mistake