In the classroom: Denmead Infant School

(Front l-r) Lee Buckwell, Abigail Montgomery, (back l-r) Beau Mullins, Imogen Matthews, ELizabeth Grace-Horton. ''Picture: Paul Jacobs (142824-1)
(Front l-r) Lee Buckwell, Abigail Montgomery, (back l-r) Beau Mullins, Imogen Matthews, ELizabeth Grace-Horton. ''Picture: Paul Jacobs (142824-1)
Dozens of students crammed in to the gym at Horndean Technology College to buy their cakes Picture: Tom Bonnett

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Recent changes to the curriculum have given schools the opportunity to look at children’s learning and think about how we can ensure they are active and enthusiastic in school, writes headteacher Jacqui Bradshaw.

The focus of our new curriculum has led us to look at our grounds to consider how we can set challenges outdoors as well as in.

At Denmead Infant School we have beautiful and extensive grounds which include a pond, orchard, bike track, amphitheatre and class gardens to name but a few.

We have always recognised the importance of using the grounds to support all areas of learning as research indicates that outdoor learning is effective in motivating young children.

As a high percentage of our curriculum is taught outdoors we have been accredited as a ‘trailblazer’ school.

A fundamental part of our early years provision involves outdoor learning.

The children engage in a variety of activities such as exploring, making dens, creating maps and bug hunts.

The learning experiences are reflected indoors and outdoors, so you will see children reading, writing and counting indoors and out.

Experiences such as these help the children to develop a lifelong love of learning.

The school has always benefitted from a very strong sense of community and this has enabled us to develop our grounds to a high standard.

Over the years parents and local groups have supported the school through Grounds Days where we come together to clear the pond, plant trees or construct class gardens.

As we move to the future and look to create a new vision for our curriculum we have enlisted the support of the County Landscaping Team.

It will support the school in creating a concept map for the site looking at each area and creating specific zones.

This is a huge task and in order to make the best use of our land we will have a team of people including staff, governors, PTA, members of the community and our children.

The County Landscaping Team will lead workshops to support us in making decisions to shape the future.

Once the plan is in place we will move into the next stage of realising our ambitions. This will involve hard work, determination and lots of fundraising.

Schools have received less money for capital building projects in the last few years, however, the Denmead community have a can do attitude and I have no doubt that with the community behind us we will achieve our goal.

What the pupils say

Beau Mullins, seven:

‘I would like a reading area outside because I think being outside helps me to learn. It would be a special den with a shelf for fiction and non-fiction books. I would really love it if I could share books with my friends inside and out.’

Lee Buckwell, six:

‘I would like a climbing structure so I can get more climbing skills. We have been learning about being healthy and it’s really important to do lots and lots of exercise. I am a bit scared of heights so this would help me to be more confident.’

Elizabeth Houghton, five:

‘I would like to play with small worlds outside. I love to play weddings with all my friends. We like to dance and it would be great to dress up as a bride. I once went to a wedding in Malta and I was a bridesmaid.’

Imogen Matthews, five:

‘I want to dig in a big sandpit. We could put it in our big playground so everyone could play in it and each class could take it in turns. I like to put little treasures in the sand and then dig them up again.’

Abigail Montgomery, four:

‘I want to play in a den outside. We have been building dens in our Sparkle time. We use blankets and I went inside the den with my friend Sophie. It was really, really dark and I liked it.’

Arts are an important part of our pupils’ lives

THE school is recognised for promoting the arts across the curriculum, writes headteacher Jacqui Bradshaw.

Denmead Infant School has recently been awarded the Artsmark for its skill in using the arts to support learning.

The school has always been committed to ensuring that our children have a rich arts curriculum.

As part of the feedback one of the recognised strengths was the involvement of the local community.

We have worked very hard to use what is on our doorstep to encourage our children to explore the local culture as well as providing opportunities for global study through the curriculum.

The school choir performs regularly to Green Meadows care home.

Artwork is judged by members of the community and our churches enable us to take part in some seasonal festivals.

The school regularly participates in music festivals as well as providing art work for groups and businesses.

We are extremely well supported by a very hard working and proactive PTA.

The school’s music teacher Mrs Barty has recently added ukulele to the extensive range of musical instruments taught at the school.

Our PTA has purchased 30 ukuleles and this has enabled all of our Year 2 children to have weekly lessons.

As a school we firmly believe that having an excellent arts provision has a positive impact on our children’s confidence and attitude to learning.

They relish the opportunity to perform and love to see their artwork displayed and celebrated.

We believe that through these opportunities our children will be confident to share their views and ideas.