Gilbrook School is a Social Emotional and Mental Health School for children aged 5-11 years old. We started to look at ways of educating our children in an alternative way. Many of our children struggle to conform to the neuro typical standards we place on most school age children. Sitting still at a desk for the majority of the day was severely impacting their Mental Health. Our school garden was started about 8 years ago. Mr Jackson realised that the children did not know where their food came from and decided to set up a school garden to educate the children. The children get a lot out of being outside, being physical and free to move. It meets their sensory needs which give them serotonin releases in the brain which relaxes them.
The garden is about the children. They design the layout of the garden. Not only do we learn how to grow vegetables, we have a very successful pond with fish and a family of frogs. The children expanded on this, we have setup bird boxes and have a resident fox, who visits regularly. The children recognise that vegetable growing and wildlife go together.
As for our local environment, we are looking at producing vegetables for our school kitchen. Any surplus would be boxed up for the elderly in our local community. Eventually, we want to introduce livestock onto the school grounds. There is a big push to create an outside learning strategy to improve our children’s mental health and well-being needs.
We are at the start of a huge project; we are in the process of setting up an outside learning policy which now means that the school garden is now on the curriculum timetable. In the near future we will have an outdoor classroom and after that we hope to create our own Forestry School.