One of our key ambitions for the children at Wicor is to inspire them to notice and ask questions about their world and to feel their own strong connections to the planet they are going to spend their lives on, writes headteacher Mark Wildman.
We have therefore spent the last five years shaping the school both inside and out, to create a challenging and inspiring learning environment that fosters curiosity and wonderment.
We now have a large allotment, a wildflower area for pollinators, an orchard with a newly-created wildflower meadow, camera obscura, pond, stumpery, tropical bed and two large polytunnels and greenhouses to germinate our seeds.
To help bring this to life in the classroom we have recently developed an Environmental Science curriculum which exploits our outdoor learning resources.
This curriculum ensures that children spend a good deal of their time investigating and learning about the environment through activities such as gardening and horticulture, cooking, art and poetry.
Every child gets to plant something from seed, to care for growing plants and then to harvest the end result whether it be a radish or a rose.
The children also help turn some of the produce into items for sale at Christmas and summer fairs by making everything from chutneys to lavender-scented bath bombs.
We have a team of community volunteers who work in the grounds helping the children understand the finer points of horticulture, for example, companion planting, soil types, pest control and plant propagation.
The community volunteers also support our four seasonal grounds days. We want the children to learn about the changes in their environment that occur throughout the year and to help this we have four seasonal grounds days.
We have just had our Spring Grounds Day. The theme of this day was ‘Trees’ and the school spent much of the day outside drawing, photographing and writing, as well as carrying out maintenance tasks and studying some science.
We usually have a bonfire going on these days and the children cook potatoes, marshmallows and corn on the cob.
Inspiring young minds is a constant process, so what next?
Apart from preparing for this year’s National Garden Scheme Open Days, we are creating a Jurassic Garden and preparing to take delivery of our first group of hens in September.
That will cause fresh wonderment and a whole new set of questions.