As the school celebrates its sixtieth year of education we are proud this coincides with Dr Jane’s jubilee anniversary of the publication of her 1960 study of wild chimpanzees in what is now Tanzania was a breakthrough in primate research.
What better way than creating an area where teachers can easily take children outdoors and an area where they can spend break and lunch times to celebrate these two anniversaries?
Guided by year 7 taking part in the The RHS plan it green competition, they have consulted the whole school community, listening to ideas from fellow, new pupils all the way through to year 13 pupils, some of whom have been at our school for nearly seven years. Ideas including the slide into the swimming pool, got shelved rather quickly, though we all thought having a slide down onto the lower field was definitely a favourite! Trouble was no one could find where to cost one out!
As the 60 years was central to our theme we tried to make a path way down, what is a rather steep banking in the shape of 60… but in its side. As we have children with mobility issues we wanted to make the path as low an incline as possible. After all, what’s the point of a school garden if we all can’t enjoy it!
Steps were made for partial access due to the gradient of the slope. A popular feature from all year groups included a auditorium of sorts. Our school has a particularly strong music department so summer concerts and picnics in the new garden has always been a dream. One we’d like to see come to fruition combining our love of the outdoors with the delights of our talented pupils.
Talented pupils can also be found on the sports teams, many parents and community members support our teams and would love the opportunity to sit down on staged seating. Not only will the path enable parents to access the files safely, they will feel part of the school, as there are so many aspects of our pupils engrained within it.
During our research we decided to look into what made our town. We know that Accrington and the surrounding towns of East Lancashire were at the heart of the Industrial Revolution due to the damp and often cold weather we have to cope with. Perfect for the manufacture of cotton, but not as our Eco Group will tell you for the growth of vegetables and fruit. After much trial and error and support of the local Prospects Foundation they have fine tuning their gardening skills embracing the less than perfect microclimate by selecting more tolerant varieties and of course fully utilising our 36’ polytunnel. With a microclimate a kin to the Lake District all dwarf tree stocks will be selected for their hardiness. We’re hoping our garden will be an example of how permaculture can be continued at home. Part of our garden will emulate back yard gardening, due to the high concentration of terraced houses around our town. We w at to prove that low food mile produce can be grow in the smallest of places. We’re hoping our technology department will help with this, especially the labels. This is intended that students will notice these ideas, check what’s needed (all labelled up) even bring their parents along, or they might like something they see, at many of the events we hold in school.
Improved access to the school field to allow children to be outdoors more often. It is envisaged in dry weather that children will use this new garden area every break and lunch time and for some during the normal teaching hours, as well as after school.
Modelling of permaculture in different environments. Sloped areas as well as small areas which would show what could be done in back yard.
Provides quiet areas for children to contemplate life, have space, or even worship.
Accrington Nori bricks are found at the foot on the Empire State Building and the more local Blackpool tower. Nori bricks made from our local clay, were known to be as hard as iron. Unfortunately the type setter put the letters in the wrong order and they were ever know as Nori. Rather than buy new bricks, we aim to salvage them from around the town, finding 862, represented each of the young men who fell on the 1st July 1916 at the infamous battle of Somme. As part of the 100 legacy project run by the Blackburn Diocese four year 10 students visited the Somme and the memorial (made from Nori bricks) over the summer. They are keen to support the building of a small retaining wall to the slope, which will double as a seat. They would love to see each brick layer by a different person, this may of course not be possible, but we have to aim high. ThIs would provide a permanent memorial to the fallen Accrington Pals and devastation this causes to the community, by providing an area to be, improve our own schools mental health. There will be surrounded by touch and smell areas to help people in crisis. Research has shown that connections with the outdoors helps people’s well being.
By rewilding around the garden, we can show and demonstrate how to overcome the difficult clay soils. Offer advice to parents and other community groups. School benefits will be to see more wildlife around school, linking with a local Hyndburn butterfly project in Milnshaw Park. The introduction of bee hives in conjunction with a local primary school who work with our Hyndburn Eco Cluster group should offer plenty of teaching opportunities, as well as the potential produce of honey. We’ve already successfully rehomed a swarm from 2017 and look forward to our own, with support of the Bee centre at Salmsbury Hall. Wild flowers should reduce maintenance and equally as well look appealing. To maintain the nectar supplies, annual bulbs will be integrated from snowdrops and crocuses to daffodils and tulips. Each year group adding to the annual stock for the next five years.
The 2019 Indices of Deprivation reveals that Hyndburn was the 18th most deprived area out of 317 districts and unitary authorities in England, by the rank of average rank measure. In total 27% of the lower super output areas in the authority were in the 10% most deprived in the country. Encouraging children to reconnect with nature, learn how to grow their own food to improve themselves, economically and physically as well improve their mental health. The garden will provide various ‘model’ areas which can be replicated in any terraced house back yard or even large garden space.
Undertaking a project like this needs long term vision. Earth provides enough to satisfy every man’s needs, but not every-man’s greed.
If we were planning for a year, we’d sow cabbage, if we were planning for a decade, we’ll plant trees, but we’re planning for a lifetime, so this garden will formally become part of our education.