From The Ground #15

One has to be very short sighted to miss the obvious benefits that come from spending time on the allotment. It was such a beautiful evening for our after school gardening session tonight. The children were happy, engaged and free spirited. It really brought home the reason why we all put so much effort in to this fabulous resource that the school now possesses.

The topic for the first week back was bird feeders. The bird feeding station that was kindly donated by Dobbies in Cirencester is located outside the school. It means the children can take more responsibility for topping it up. Far better than buying bird food, we like to make our own. After clearing Waitrose out of all its lard, the new work table was laid and the session prepped ready for the children’s arrival.

Children just love getting their hands gooey and covered in slime, so mixing up the lard and seeds was a real treat for them.

The session also provided an impromptu English lesson. The allotment can be slotted in to most places on the National Curriculum, one just needs a little imagination to understand how. Letter cookie cutters are a great way to prompt some spelling practice. It’s so much more fun than simply sitting at a desk reciting. Put quite simply, if children are inspired and engaged, they will intrinsically learn. Imagine if weekly spelling tests took place outside, in the open air, with hands on learning where the children not only got to learn how to spell but understand why it’s important to care for nature. It’s not that far fetched.

The reception and year 1 children all wanted to make a name for themselves, quite literally. Such super fun. Smiles a plenty. There is so much scope to learn through the environment and the world around them, and the children get so much from it. The loveliest thing is that the children will get to enjoy hanging up their bird feeders outside school and watch the birds enjoy the goodies they’ve left out.

Oakridge may be a small school but the friendship groups our children form will last them a life time. Wren, Elin and Thea’s friendship epitomises that quality. It’s better to have fewer friends that mean more than more friends who mean less. Big schools are way overrated.

Time spent on the allotment is time well spent. Adults and children alike find much rest and purpose from the simple pleasures that being outside brings. One has to work hard to ensure that all children at the school feel the full benefits of it. It’s not easy, but with great commitment, imagination and determination, there are ways of giving outdoor learning more recognition.

As Oakridge School reaches out to more organisations and environmental groups. we hope it will inspire the next generation to care more for their planet than the generation before them. There is no subject more important than the world in which they live. Oakridge School strives to provide our children with the most current and relevant educational topics, and we deliver them in creative, imaginative ways. Any child who has the great fortune of stumbling across this school is a child better off. There is no greater oak in the wood than Oakridge, and we all know how that phrase goes...