It's been smiles all round at Horninglow Primary School in Burton after the grand opening of its newly £36,000 revamped garden and playground.
Teachers, parents and pupils have worked tirelessly throughout the year to transform what was described as a "dull" play area to one now bursting with colour.
Earlier in the year, the school, which is attended by 223 children, was approached by the mother of a pupil who asked if more could be done with the garden there. And what originally started as planting a few seeds spiralled into growing fruit trees, creating bird feeders and even having brand new play equipment fitted on the grounds – much to the children’s delight.
Teachers at the school, in Horninglow Road, say the major £36,570 transformation has helped to massively reduce the number of accidents, fights and fall-outs in the playground. The new play equipment and gardening facilities have allowed the children to remain occupied during their free time. It also saw the school managed to win gold in the Derbyshire County Council Garden Olympics awards, which volunteers say has given Horninghlow a “massive” boost.
The money came from the de Ferrers Trust, which the school is part of, and lottery funding.
Mum Emma Johnson first approached the school before Christmas, suggesting the garden needed a change. The 42-year-old, who is the parent governor at the institute, said the transformation was almost as though someone had “turned the lights on”.
She said: “It was so grey and depressing and boring and, in my view, how can children be inspired to do great work if they’ve got nothing to inspire them?
“Originally I thought we were just going to put a few flowers in, but now look at it. It’s just gone mad."
School staff the new garden has not only enriched the children’s learning, it’s also massively impacted those with special learning needs. Tracy Twells, who is the senior lunchtime supervisor, said the newly installed quiet area helped to calm pupils down in times of distress.
She said: “We wanted to use the area to help teachers as well as the children with learning needs,” she said.
“Teachers are now able to take children out into the garden and give them a watering can for 15 minutes and then then take them back to class, which gives them quiet time.
“You can see them come alive when they’re gardening, and they go back into class absolutely fine. It’s amazing.”
The school has also benefited from their “groovy gardening club”, a group of dedicated gardening year five pupils. Staff teach the club how to grow and plant seeds, which they then teach to pupils younger than themselves.
The group was chosen specifically to help them get along more and develop a closer bond.
The opening of the garden, which took place on Friday, July 7, was marked with with a garden party, where staff and children were able to wear party clothes and celebrate the launch of their brand new playground.
Principal at the primary school, Becci Breedon, says the show of community spirit demonstrates everything the school stands for.
She said: “I think it’s been amazing. The enthusiasm from the parents, the staff and the children has just been incredible.
“My sister came up from Wales to help paint the wall, and I can’t believe people are willing to give up their Saturdays to help! They’ve far surpassed expectations with the garden.”
“After being put in special measures, were on the way up.”
The school now plans to grow fruit trees and install a sensory garden next year. An after school gardening club is also being discussed following the enthusiasm shown by students.