In April 2018, a group of volunteers from BMW Group UK went to Sandringham Infant School to help improve their outside areas.
Katherine Money, Headteacher, said: "We were very keen to develop the outside learning spaces at Sandringham Infant School as they were tired and uninspiring. Our aim was for the children to feel excited about extending and enriching their learning in all areas of the school, literally stepping outside their classrooms! This involved cleaning, painting and repairing three outdoor learning areas and refreshing our allotment area."
Since our volunteers visited the space, the children have been using the new outdoor areas every day at school. Teachers have been able to carefully plan activities suited to the children’s needs, safe in the knowledge that children will be keen to use these more inviting and exciting looking areas, and that they now have the space to be able to accommodate a whole class!
The whole school community feel more positive about the learning environments at the school. The children are spending more time outside which will inevitably improve their mental health and well-being.
Parents have also commented on how wonderful the new paintwork is and how the entrance into school looks fresh and welcoming. The exciting outdoor areas were also referenced in the schools recent Ofsted inspection report.
Katherine Money, continues: "Parents and children have all commented that the area looks more appealing. This would never have been achieved by the caretaker by himself! Alongside this project and through our links with CMPP, we have also become involved in a local project last year to renovate our local pond. For us, this will become a welcome space to bring children for visits to study pond life and local environments so it was pleasing to have been invited to take part in this. Our community links have strengthened this year thanks to the support of CMPP."
In total, the project has benefited the children (225) , staff (35), parents and neighbours at the school. The children are using the outdoor spaces more frequently, the staff are planning sessions of the school day to include outdoor learning; including gardening and science. Parents comment on how refreshed the outdoor spaces now look and the structures outside appear much more attractive to our neighbours – many of whom overlook the school grounds.
Feedback from the Sandringham Community:
“I didn’t realise how dark and gloomy this area was until now…it looks amazing!” - Teacher
“The fairies have been and cleared up our play area.” - Pupil, Reception
“So nice to return to school after the holidays and see it looking so clean and fresh.” - Parent
“Time and effort has clearly been invested in outdoor learning areas this year - it has made such a difference to the appearance of the school as I walk through.” - Parent
“I like playing outside most of all. We have more space and no fences which means we can play on the
grass now too!” - Pupil, Year 2
“The project has empowered staff members to value their outdoor areas as much as indoor classrooms… we now call the outdoor spaces ‘outdoor classrooms’ to ensure the message passes onto the children and that they are given equal time and opportunities to play and learn inside and outside.” - Senior Teacher
“Following the success of the renovation, we started an after school gardening club in May. We hadn’t been able to do this before as there just wasn’t the space or resources within our current provision. Within 24hrs, the club was oversubscribed! The children - our eco warriors - just loved it!” - Support Staff
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