School garden in full bloom thanks to funding

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Northleigh School pond is a source of learning for pupils.

CHILDREN at Northleigh House School near Warwick are now learning more about nature as they explore the great outdoors, thanks to funding from a national supermarket chain.

The school, which works to provide a therapeutic learning environment for vulnerable children, won £3,250 from Tesco’s Bags of Help scheme in 2017 for its Wildlife Classroom Garden project.

The grant was largely channelled into regenerating the school’s wildlife pond, which was relined and its edges shore up in order to build a proper path for children to walk along safely.

Native, non-invasive species of pond plants were introduced and an area was created for students to take part in pond-dipping. The school also purchased equipment including nets, magnifying glasses, pond-dripping trays and jars to be used during interactive science and nature lessons.

The funding also enabled the school to host a learning fun day with an expert from The Willow Bank, who worked with the children to create a Living Willow sculpture which is now a permanent growing feature of the garden, and will be used during the summer for lessons outside.

Lorna Perkins, fundraising volunteer at Northleigh House School, said: “It has been remarkable to watch the children grow in confidence as they spend more time in the garden and learn more about nature. They’ve loved being in the fresh air and experiencing wildlife for themselves first-hand, rather than through a textbook.

“The vast majority of children who come through our doors are withdrawn and lacking in confidence as a result of trauma and over half of them have attempted suicide. This project is hugely important to us as we’re always looking for ways to engage and inspire them outside of the classroom.

“Our students respond particularly well to energetic lessons that they can participate actively in and thanks to Tesco, we’re hoping to incorporate more activities in the Wildlife Classroom Garden during the summer.”

Keith Jackson, Bags of Help manager at Tesco, said: “It’s wonderful to see this project come to life as it is a fantastic example of the positive impact that spending time outdoors can have on children, both for their mental and physical well-being.

“Since launching in 2015, Bags of Help has provided more than £63 million to over 20,000 local community projects.”

Northleigh School was established in 2012 to address the growing need for a safe, calm and progressive learning environment to help secondary aged children recover from the effects of high anxiety.