Wednesday, May 26, 2010

Glasgow Schools Day 2

Churchill Day 9 (Glasgow Day 2)

Kelvindale Primary School

Kelvdindale has 450 students and is in a nice area of Glasgow with a very supportive parent group.  Dorothy and Julienne showed us around. They are an Eco school and were proudly flying their green Eco flag out the front.  As an Eco school they maximise recycling their rubbish.   There is huge parent support in the school for their organic garden.  After school gardening club is run by parents twice a week with up to 25 students participating.  I was shown the organic vegetable garden by Angus – a parent who ran the gardening club and his enthusiasm was highly evident and contagious.  During Gardening Clu children were free to garden or just be in the area.  Last week for example they volunteered to tidy up illegal dumping that occurred in the schools woodlands.  This then became a school project with letters to the Council and a general concern by the students.  I was particularly impressed by the students we sspoke to and their knowledge of their local school environment was wonderful.

Statistically, 90% of gardeners garden as a result of seeing seen their parents garden.  With a lot of the students living in high rise apartments, gardening may have missed a generation and now the school has allowed students to experience the benefits of having their own garden.  Allotments are available however there is a minimum 7 year waiting list and sometimes up to 30 years waiting!

The school had a large native woodland area that they were making extensive use of in lessons.  Development of the new National Curriculum to incorporate the woodland area ensured classes used this resource across all learning areas.  Woodchip paths in the woodlands had been constructed by local conservation groups.  Additionally Grounds for Learning Government grants of up to L10 000 were available to develop outdoor classrooms.  Students had submitted a plan for this together with a number of fundraising activities and the construction of this school’s outdoor classroom will commence shortly.

The Royal Bank of Scotland will provide 20 employees for 1 day to help build this facility.  This is seen as being part of their community responsibility.  Private business, parental and student support is indicative of a whole team approach to education.  The outdoor Eco approach appears to be endorsed throughout the community and after listening to the students who spoke with me, their enthusiasm, knowledge and commitment for the environment will ensure ongoing success with this initiative.

Eco School is run by the Federation for Environmental Education.  This group began recently and has gradually spread to countries across the world.  Although it is in New Zealand it has not reached Australia.  There aim is to bring learning to life through the use of the outdoor environment.

Hazelwood Primary School is a school for 42 vision impaired students, aged from 2 – 19 years.  The majority also had additional intellectual and physical disabilities.  There were 60 staff members.  The school is approximately 3 years old and was built on a parkland  where a lot of the established trees remain. There was extensive use of vegetable gardens throughout the school.  This included specially raised beds that allowed for wheelchair access.  There was a greenhouse that was accessible to all students and this was very much a multi sensory approach.  Fruit trees have also been planted throughout the grounds.  A webcam in one of the numerous nesting boxes that had been placed throughout the ground allowed the students to observe the hatching of chicks.

Students had use of the entire school grounds during breaks and despite the many challenges facing these students they were encouraged to experience the outdoors daily.  For me, this reinforced risk taking is important and develops childrens’ understanding of their limitations.  Attempts to make play areas safe often goes overboard and prevents children from maximising their potential. 

In all schools I have visited so far, there were initial concerns from staff about the increased risk from outdoor play areas.  At Hazelwood, minor injuries did occur however these were no more than would be experienced in a general school playground.  Any sceptics concerned with the risk associated with outdoor playing areas should come to Hazelwood and see these students playing in outdoor free play areas and their concerns would be quickly dispelled.


Emma Strong said...

Fancy having to wait 30 years to get an allotment. Makes you feel very blessed to have such a lot of land here in Australia. I'm very excited about the possibility of us having a vegetable plot at school. But I'll definitely have to find a groovy pair of wellies, with gloves to match.

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