Health and wellbeing

Funding level: £5,001 to £10,000

Description


What your project aims to achieve:

In 2018 the school underwent a major rebuild (ten additional class rooms and new parking facilities) to accommodate the burgeoning number of pupils and staff. As a result of construction, a third of the school’s outdoor space was lost. This included the destruction of the school’s award winning garden which was levelled and used as a thoroughfare for bulldozers, cranes and tractors to complete their work.

The lost garden was designed and developed over a ten year period. It involved countless hours of toil and reflected the collective effort of hundreds of children. As part of our school development programme the PTFA is working closely with the school to restore this vital communal space. The project is to design and build an outdoor learning space that provides: multi-sensory stimulation for children with special educational needs and disabilities (SEND); raised bedding areas for children to experience the health benefits of growing their own fruit and veg; therapeutic eco-spaces where vulnerable pupils can go to in times of crisis and a canopied ‘all weather’ outdoor classroom space to enrich the curriculum experience of hundreds of children.

The impact it will have in your local community:

Stag Lane Junior school lies at the intersection of three London boroughs. It caters for children from a wide range of backgrounds. Incredibly complex demographic pressures in the area impact on the daily running of school life. 98% of children speak English as an additional language. 10% of children are on the ‘vulnerable’ register. (This means children involved with Social Services, refugee families with histories of trauma and abuse, children with learning disabilities, children (and families) who are homeless and in hostel accommodation). There is also the issue of affordable housing and extortionate rents, which results in many families having to cohabit and share facilities like kitchens and the garden. A significant number of pupils live in multi- occupancy housing. Access to outdoor space is now a premium.

The school has long promoted an ethos of inclusion and developed considerable expertise in supporting the local community. In many respects, school functions as a constant, stable and safe space for children and families in their otherwise complex and chaotic lives. The garden was an extension of this communal provision. It provided a refuge for many of the children in school with complex needs who would otherwise have no access to natural environments.

The school garden rebuild really will be a home from home: a place for children to go when angry, overwhelmed or frustrated; a place to plant a tree for a bereaved loved one; an opportunity to sew a seed, water a plant and get away from it all. Gardening provides the opportunity to build and nurture something other than ourselves. This brings with it the experience of creating and nurturing our own worth through acts designed to benefit others who share the communal space. Most importantly for the school this year is the opportunity to create an area where a particular group of pupils can develop their self-esteem and sense of purpose by being involved in a project which will benefit their peers. This group includes children with life-threatening illnesses, SEND and children on the Vulnerable Register.

How the money will make a difference:

There are clear benefits to engaging children with SEND in natural environments. Increasing awareness among researchers and health practitioners indicates the many benefits derived from gardening based activities and time spent in natural surroundings (Clatworthy et al., 2013). Children on the autistic spectrum, children with developmental disorders, those who have experienced early trauma or bereavement all benefit from the provision and experience of working in natural environments. (Genter et al., 2015).

Stag Lane Schools PTFA

Moment of Pride

The school goes the extra mile for every pupil that passes through the gates. It is committed to creating the best environment so pupils can thrive and grow into positive citizens. The garden has always been an (outdoor) extension of this aspiration. It is a place where children are nurtured.

Location: Edgware

Crowdfunder

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