A HEADTEACHER who saved her school field from being sold off is seeing her dream of an outdoor classroom for the whole community come true.
Michelle Petzer, of Padnell Infants, is just £10,000 away from realising a £30,000 outside learning experience with toilets, electricity and water in the middle of her school’s 1.5-acre nature reserve – thanks to the fundraising efforts and generosity of staff, parents, pupils and local businesses.
She hopes the outdoor classroom will open in September, to allow local children to enjoy a rich variety of plants and wildlife, as well as its pond, willow dome, tunnels and nature trail.
Mrs Petzer said: ‘It’s an incredibly exciting time. The dream was for all schools and groups in the area to benefit from this fantastic plot of land and we’re almost there.
‘Budgets are tight and it costs schools hundreds of pounds to take a coach-load of children to nature spots across the country.
‘Now they have a place to explore on their doorstep. I’m hoping to start to get the classroom built over the summer so it will be available to use from September. Fingers crossed we raise the money in time.’
The land, called Joey’s Field after the horse that grazed there, was given to the school by the animal’s owner after it died in the 1960s.
Despite the owner’s wishes to use the field for the children, Hampshire County Council tried to sell it off to build a housing estate – but eventually backed down after Mrs Petzer complained to the government.
Pupils held a sponsored Welly Wander in the field to raise money.
Mrs Petzer said: ‘I’m glad we held on to the field, because it’s invaluable for the children and gives them an opportunity they wouldn’t get in the classroom.
‘It’s about giving them a real experience, and helps them develop their social, speaking, listening and teamwork skills.
‘Here we focus on hands-on learning to engage the children. We want them to see and experience things for themselves, instead of just being told to believe them from illustrations in a textbook.’
The school is having a summer fair on June 26 from 11am until 2pm.