In need of better outdoor facilities for its students, Castledawson Primary School took matters into its own hands with a DIY approach.
After securing donations of various materials from a number of ‘very generous’ businesses, staff and parents have managed to create an amazing new outdoor learning area that includes a mud kitchen, waterwalls and even planters for fruit and veg.
Completed last Saturday, the school’s ‘Outdoor SOS’ project has gone down well with pupils, who couldn’t wait to get stuck in.
Primary one teacher Rebecca Hughes said the youngsters “love it” and that - even after a week - it has made a real difference to their education.
“After Christmas we sort of thought, with the really good weather coming in, it would be a really good project to get the community involved and also the parents,” she explained.
“So we all pitched in and thought (about) what we could do and what was manageable.
“A lot of the businesses that don’t even necessarily have anybody at the school, helped us out, which was amazing. All the paint and everything was donated... it’s fab.”
Mrs Hughes went on to say parents, teachers and children at the school all had their say on what the outdoor space should include.
“A lot of the parents then came forward and said ‘well I’ve got a great idea for this’,” she continued, “so it was very much a whole school thing. The kids all had an input into it.
“Then it was really just a matter of trying to find the things that we needed.”
The project cost around £200 - much less than if they had had to buy everything they needed, she said.
“We had things like wood pallets and tyres, tubing and things for water walls that was all donated by local plumbing places,” she went on.
“They love it. It was done last Saturday and on Monday morning, if you’d seen their faces when they came in - it was just the joy.
“We wanted something that was going to be (educational)... rather than just an outdoor play area.
“We built a mini-beast mansion for doing about bugs and mini-beasts - somewhere where they could go out and have a little poke around and investigate.
“We have a mud kitchen. In the planters we are growing vegetables and fruit - it’ll be very much handed back over to them.”
“We have outdoor play scheduled into our timetable on a Wednesday and even my wee ones, when they were out, they were so engaged and involved in all the activities.
“On the dry days, on the few that there’s been, they have been able to go out and play. Even just the language and all the learning that they’ve got so far has been amazing. It really has been a boost to their education.” (More pics next week)