At Goat Lees, we really understand how our natural surroundings and being at one with nature, plays an important role in our mental wellbeing. For this reason, we constantly look at ways we can improve our school grounds to embrace this. Now we are moving into the winter months, the rain seems to be relentless and, although we really need it after a summer of hardly no rain, it has made it a little difficult to get out and do everything we have planned. Luckily, our Roots & Shoots Eco Group and After School Club are made of stronger stuff and have wrapped up and ventured out to face the elements. Two of the things we have been focusing on, at the moment, are the ‘Quiet’ areas and the Bird Café.
For the ‘Quiet’ areas, we have three separate spaces: our Sensory Garden, the Nurture Boat and the Outdoor Reading Shed. The Reading shed was finished at the end of last term and it has been a great success. Not only can children sit in the shed to read on cushions, but you can sit outside on beanbags or maybe on the benches that we made out of old pallets. In addition to the benches, our Roots & Shoots After School Club have also made a planter from more old pallets which they planted with spring bulbs; this is going to bring a burst of colour in the new year for everyone to enjoy whilst reading. Once the Reading Shed was completed, we held an opening week where parents joined their children to sit and read together for the afternoon. The children absolutely love using it and it is always busy over break times. It was a beautiful, calm moment of togetherness.
The Nurture Boat is another area we have been hard at work on. The donated boat is slowly taking shape and hopefully, once the rain stops, it will dry out enough for us to continue repairing it. The beach landscaping, however, is coming along nicely as the rain has not stopped the planting and laying of pebbles which we have used to create our beautiful ‘Sea of Calm’ feel around the boat. This is going to be a lovely place to sit quietly for a moment, to gather our thoughts and just to appreciate the wonderful nature that surrounds us.
We must not forget the Sensory Garden area. This space already has two beautiful Buddleia bushes which always attracts a sea of bees and butterflies every summer. We have been very lucky as one of our very ‘arty’ teachers has offered to decorate the wooden bench that sits in the space with a colourful design (which includes some very cute goats to represent Goat Lees) to make the bench more appealing to sit on. We have also received a donation of various pots to plant up some sensory plants (thinking of aromatic, bright and colourful varieties) and although this plot’s completion will be a little further down the line as yet, we have currently managed to raise over £200 through our new partnership with EMR Recycling. This total has been reached through the scrap metal, along with used fizzy drink cans and food tins kindly donated from parents and staff. The money raised so far is going towards the purchase of a solar water feature, plus ‘sensory’ plants which are needed to complete this area. Once finished, this is going to be a haven for insects and children alike, and we will be able to post some pictures of this area being enjoyed by both.
Last, but by no means least, the other area we have been creating is the Bird Café. As we move into winter and the days are shorter and colder, it is important that we make sure the birds have food. Again, from donations from parents of their old, unwanted bird feeders, we created a ‘café’ area up by our ‘pallet’ bird hides. We have elected two Bird Café Monitors whose job, every day, is to make sure the bird feeders are topped up. The next thing we want to do is to add more bird boxes in the surrounding trees. This will hopefully make the area even more attractive to the birds all year round.
As you can see, we are constantly working hard on our beautiful grounds here at Goat Lees, and the wonderful biodiverse habitats we have been able to create. We love sharing everything we have achieved together and hope you enjoy reading about it too.