Wednesday, 2 May 2012

Dispatches Revisits The Chalet School

[caption id="attachment_2768" align="alignleft" width="300"] Project Polytunnel![/caption]

In the summer of 2010 a team from Wakefield House' Commercial department donated their time, effort and lots of equipment towards building a working garden for children at the Chalet School in Liden, Swindon.  The school caters for up to 36 children with learning difficulties, between the ages of 3 and 11.

The team's challenge was to construct a 10ft x 30ft polytunnel to provide a space for the children to learn how to grow their own fruit and vegetables. All 36 children at the school were also given a gardening pack, containing gloves, a trowel, a fork and vegetable seeds.

As well as the tunnel and gardening packs Smiths News also donated a bench for the children to sit on and a musical wind-chime to add to the ambience.

Rachel Cook visited the school earlier this year to see how they're making use of their new resource...

The school has really benefitted from the addition of the poly tunnel, which now means they can grow a wide variety of fresh fruit and vegetables all year round. They grow anything from strawberries, onions, potatoes to tomatoes. The tomatoes have really thrived in the tunnel, and without this they may not have survived.

[caption id="attachment_2769" align="alignright" width="225"] Day 2 - Job Done :)[/caption]

Recently the children helped Ruth [the Forest School Leader - Ed] move the strawberry plants from the school’s allotment into the tunnel to be potted singly. The school plan to hold a table-top sale on (date TBC) outside the school to sell the plants to raise money for this year’s seeds.

Strawberries have been a real success in the garden – with the school over-run with them last summer! To help the children enjoy them at their best, Ruth took some home to make jam, and they also made strawberry jellies in school.

The school's head teacher Kathie Bryan said:

The addition of the poly tunnel has had a huge positive impact on the children’s learning. They are able to keep dry in all weathers, and love to spend time nurturing the plants and seeds. The tunnel has also meant we are able grow lots of different fruit and vegetables all year round - so we are never short of fresh produce!

The team at Smiths News were fabulous. We had a great day, and were thrilled when the project was completed. I’m happy to say that it’s still standing!

Getting the children involved in the garden is really important to us. It’s a pleasure to help them develop their skills and learn new things outside of the classroom.

Kathie also spoke to me about the emphasis the school places on good food, which has prompted them to get involved with the Food For Life Partnership. The school has already achieved a bronze award so is now going for gold! 

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