WHEN SMALL DREAMS BECOME BIG PLANS
The idea of building a Sustainability Hub in the school grounds was conceived in 2022, but back in 2019 we had already been developing the idea of a smaller project called The Muddy Boots Lab. Our aim was to convert a small wooden building that was already on site, to establish a covered and well-equipped science workshop in the woods. The lab would give pupils easy access to science equipment and learning resources, that they could freely use as an integral part of child-led discovery and experimentation outdoors. With access to microscopes and other high quality resources, they could explore the nature, processes and methods of science, within contexts that they found personally engaging. Lack of funds (and then Covid) delayed that project, but we didn't give up on the dream...
OUR SCHOOL MICRO RESERVE
In 2021, with our pupils already demonstrating an enthusiastic interest in outdoor science and the flora and fauna in our school woodland, the decision was made to designate the entire grounds of Appledore School as a micro reserve within the North Devon Biosphere, managed by pupils as reserve rangers. Rising to the challenge, the children have been working in their reserve, planting hedges with Northam Town Councillors, renovating the pond with North Devon Biosphere and Northam Burrows staff and carrying out wildlife surveys with Petroc Animal Conservation students.
In 2022, on the back of all the exciting collaborations we were building with local environmental organisations and groups thorugh our school micro reserve, we felt it was the right time to re-awaken the dream of a muddy boots lab - but to look instead at a building designed by children, that would work for school and community. This could be a welcoming hub, promoting lifelong, innovative engagement with sustainability and STEM.
Our brief for the building design, developed through years of focusing on outdoor experiential learning at the school, was one large multi-purpose room, with large doors opening out onto a decking area overlooking our school woodland and the estuary beyond. We also specified disabled access, disabled toilet, an additional outdoor toilet, storage for STEM and outdoor resources that were at a child's eyeline and easily accessible for them, kitchen facilities for cooking sessions and a drying room for outdoor clothing. We wanted the building to demonstrate sustainable building methods and materials, solar energy, a living green roof, rainwater harvesting and biophilic design (connecting people to nature through building design).
The new Sustainability Hub will be located at the centre of the school micro reserve, acknowledging the significance of the positive impact the children are having on their local environment as managers of their own reserve
OUR LEGACY PROJECTS
Our current year 6 pupils have been co-managing the building design over the last year as their legacy project. They have worked with Petroc HNC Construction students on an initial design concept and feasibility study. These pupils will now work with The Appledore-based company OCR Architecture. OCRA are generously taking over the project to manage pre-planning surveys, detailed design and planning permission. The pupils have also worked with a PHD student, as co-researchers, to explore the incorporation of visual links to their local heritage in the Hub and associated landscaping. Each subsequent year 5 group will have the opportunity to start a legacy project, on the school site or in the community.
We recognise that a school that is woven together with its community is enriched by those connections. The Sustainability Hub will be a welcoming, inclusive space at the heart of the school that embraces the concept of a sustainable environment and sustainable community. We are already building links to local businesses and organisations, educational establishments, groups and community members who are eager to help to fund, build, resource, develop, and use the Hub. Ideas on community activities have included science and gardening clubs, family science events, a free repair shop and wellbeing sessions. We welcome everyone in our community to share their ideas, skills and interests with us and play an active part in the growth of the Hub as a unique school and community resource.
WANT TO JOIN US IN THIS EXCITING INITIATIVE?
School admin office: 01237 474365 Email: email@example.com