Rowlands Castle pupils get to learn in their outdoor learning area

GETTING STUCK IN Headteacher Kay Penicotte-Henrie, with Hayden Thelwell, Harry Godden and Holly Urquhart
GETTING STUCK IN Headteacher Kay Penicotte-Henrie, with Hayden Thelwell, Harry Godden and Holly Urquhart
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THE days of schoolchildren being stuck behind a desk all day are long gone.

Youngsters being able to roll up their sleeves, put on their wellies and learn about the natural environment around them is the focus of a primary school in Rowlands Castle.

As a way of extending learning opportunities, St John’s Primary School is in the middle of a five-year project to create an outdoor learning area.

After pupils brainstormed ideas, the school has committed to creating outdoor facilities, including an amphitheatre, learning hut, pond, woodland walk, reflection area, bamboo garden, allotments and even an outdoor art gallery.

Creating an outdoor learning space was the dream of former deputy headteacher Sue Miness, who died in 2011 at the age of 46 from bone cancer.

PTA member Sharon Armstrong, 35, said: ‘Outdoor learning is extremely important.

‘It’s well-documented that there’s a strong relationship between good outdoor learning and better education.’

A climbing area has already been installed through a £5,000 fund in memory of Mrs Miness, who chose for donations at her funeral to be directed towards improving the school.

And there has also been a £1,000 grant from East Hampshire District Council, a £3,300 donation from county councillor Sam Darragh and donations from the Women’s Institute, IBM, Waitrose and Asda.

The diocese is handing over £8,000 and there are several money-spinners, including a school cook book.

Later this month parents will be helping to dig the woodland walk, with wood chipping donated by Stansted House.

School governor Ruth Butler said Mrs Miness would be proud.

She said: ‘She would be delighted.

‘She was a fantastic supporter of being outdoors and the benefits to children of learning outdoors.’