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The sun shone as staff, children and their families from Hampshire Collegiate Prep School embarked on an ambitious tree planting day on Friday 4th March 2011.
The whole event was inspired and supported by The Woodland Trust ‘ Give It Some Welly For Woodland’ who very kindly donated 12 trees to be included in the mammoth planting session.
In total the school managed to plant a staggering 87 trees during the day. The majority of the trees planted were fruit trees such as cherry, apple, plum, damson and pear along with a stately avenue of silver birch trees in front of the school. There were many different varieties of each kind of fruit tree planted.
The school decided to create its own ‘Memory Orchard’ and invited families, friends and staff to donate a fruit tree of their choice. Each tree donated was labelled with a plaque commemorating the day and the name of the sponsor. Whilst the day was exhausting, the excitement was electric and parents felt it gave the school a wonderful community feeling. It also gave some children an opportunity to plant a silver birch outside one of the classrooms in memory of a previous pupil who recently died of cancer. One of our staff has attended a two day course on “Orchard Management” organised by the National Trust, so we hope to tap into her specialist knowledge in the coming months. For now we await the coming of Spring and look forward to a great show of blossom, with the knowledge that we have increased the “green lungs” of this part of Hampshire and we have provided a lovely habitat for birds, bugs and butterflies.
Of course we could not have done all this planting without our wellington boots! When pupils were not planting they were involved in other educational activities, whilst still wearing their wellies, which helped raise money for the Woodland Trust.
One year group participated in a huge welly throwing activity with the intention of collecting and presenting the data graphically as well as analysing the information. Other projects included creating new designs for a pair of wellington boots, decorating wooden discs to hang on a tree of life and making peg holders, again inspired by their designs. Year 6 wondered, “If their boots could talk what they would say to each other”? Our special day ended with a celebratory assembly with each year group giving a short presentation of what they had done during the day.
The planting scheme was part of a huge whole school initiative to embrace learning outside of the classroom thus raising pupil engagement, interest and achievement. Children of all ages take part in weekly LOC (Learning Outside the Classroom) lessons that are creative, often cross curricular and aimed at developing particular skills whilst fostering an appreciation of the world around them. The school is at present building its own amphitheatre and a bespoke outdoor classroom in its attractive and stimulating grounds. Future plans include the creation of maths and science trails for both the prep and senior school pupils to take part in. Work has already started on this and the trails will be completed in the summer.
The orchard will provide a lasting memory for the school and its pupils as well as providing great learning opportunities for all classes. Pupils will not only benefit from the produce from the trees, but will also have an opportunity to chart the development of the different trees over time. With the use of a recently purchased webcam it is also hoped that wildlife can be monitored too.
Our thanks go to all the families who supported the event, our enthusiastic staff and our grounds team as well as the Woodland Trust for inspiring us.
Quotes from our pupils-
“ It was a brilliant day because I have never planted a tree before!”
“ It was great because I was allowed to get mucky!”
“ I even got to give my tree a special name.”