Students and staff of Applemore College and local Primary Schools are now using the new Quiet Quad as an outdoor learning area, thanks to funding from Tesco Bags of Help.
The aim of the Quiet Quad project was to transform an under-utilised outdoor space in the centre of our secondary school into a Quiet Quad garden with native planting to stimulate our students’ senses, use as an outdoor learning area for our school and local feeder primary schools and create a calming environment for student and staff leisure time.
Eco Committee students were involved in gathering data about the Quad – asking fellow students and staff about how they used the space and what changes they would like to see. Skye, a Year 7 Eco Committee member, commented “Not many students were using the quad because it was muddy and there were no plants or wow factor. The students didn’t visit very often, neither did any wildlife.” A representative from the Eco Committee attended the Quiet Quad Steering Group and shared the survey results and a summary of design ideas. These formed the vision for the final design of the Quad which was created with the help of local landscape architect, Graeme Lamkin.
In February and March, everyone at Applemore College became involved in raising awareness of the project in our local community, to gain Bags of Help votes in local Tesco stores to ensure that we secured the funding we needed to implement all the excellent ideas for the development of the Quad.
Applemore College was delighted to be awarded £10,000 from the Tesco vote and work started to clear the site of the black rubber crumb that was covering the area, and digging started in earnest. This had to be managed around the GCSE exam timetable — the Quiet Quad is next door to the school’s hall and gym and we didn’t want our Year 11s to be disturbed! A team of volunteers, co-ordinated by a school governor, worked hard over the May half-term holiday and at weekends, and students were excited to see what progress had been made every time they came into school.
The Quiet Quad was completed just in time for the Year 11 Final Assembly in June, and our leavers’ parents admired the stimulating yet calming space that had been created.
Students, staff and visitors to the school now use the Quiet Quad at every opportunity, to take time for relaxation and quiet reflection, to read, be inspired and learn and to engage with nature including flowers and pollinators. Being in the Quiet Quad helps to lift spirits on a busy day and certainly increases the sense of well-being in our community.
Now that the development of the Quiet Quad is complete, the benefit of this beautiful outdoor learning area is being felt by Primary Schools students and staff visiting Applemore College to participate in learning activities. At the recent Schools Energy Conference that Applemore College hosted, students from five local primary schools built a huge lego brick wall in the quad to learn about housing construction and energy conservation. The plan is to extend these Primary School visits to include literacy activities within the Quad, and therefore continue Applemore College’s drive to improve the literacy levels of students in the Waterside area.
Mr Marsh, Headteacher, commented “The Quiet Quad development has immediately benefited our college community by providing a quiet area for personal reflection. The students and staff are enjoying quality social time whilst appreciating the bee friendly planting and visitors have commented on the positive environmental impact of the landscaping of the Quad. Thank you to Tesco Bags of Help and the public for voting for our project, enabling Applemore College to create this peaceful and beautiful outdoor area in the centre of our school, which will now grow into a larger community resource to the benefit of everyone who visits our school.”