Thursday, 11 August 2022

Schoolchildren love to learn, naturally

Schoolchildren love to learn, naturally

A HENLEY school has received a £5,000 grant towards outdoor education projects.

Half the money will go towards a teaching shelter in the new nature reserve at Badgemore primary in Hop Gardens.

The shelter will be built next to the old school pond, where pupils recently planted two fruit trees and are encouraging the growth of a wildflower meadow.

It will provide cover from the sun and rain when children are having lessons outside. Another £2,250 will go towards a new beekeeping project which will be launched later this year.

The school is to install a hive and a £750 “hive monitor”, an electronic device that measures the temperature, weight and humidity of the bee colony as well as recording sounds from inside.

The data can be accessed on a mobile app or on computers and will help the children understand the insects’ life cycle. The school will also spend £1,500 on a work shed for honey harvesting and storing bee-keeping equipment and gardening tools.

This will be built by parents and will enable the children to sell their honey at community events.

The other £250 will be spent on a “dipping deck” for the school’s new wildlife pond, which is being dug out a short distance from the existing one.

This will allow children to sit at the water’s edge and will be surrounded by sustainable planting.

The money was donated by the Thamesfield Trust, formerly known as Thamesfield Youth Association, which owned Henley Youth Centre in Deanfield Avenue until selling it in 2015 as it was struggling to meet the running costs.

The trustees have invested the proceeds from the sale and will regularly donate money to good causes for the town’s young people.

Chairman Clive Wilkinson said: “Badgemore is doing some really interesting work with outdoor education and it’s great that they’re linking the pupils up with nature as it’s easy for children to become rather detached from it these days. The school’s request for funding wasn’t just a vague ‘dream’, it was extremely well-thought out and fully costed so it was a very easy decision for us to approve it. I think it’s a brilliant idea.”

Assistant headteacher Tim Hoskins said: “This is an amazing opportunity. The money will allow us to realise a dream that we’ve had for a very long time.

“These developments will allow the children to develop a greater understanding of nature and a deeper sense of responsibility for the world around them.”

Teaching assistant Caroline Jacob is one of nine staff and parents who will supervise the beekeeping after attending a training course run by the South Chilterns Beekeepers’ Association.

She said: “There was an observation hive at Valley Road Primary School, where I used to work, and I’ve been fascinated by bees ever since so I jumped at the chance to help with this. It’s really exciting and I can’t wait to get started.”

As part of an overhaul of its outdoor areas, the school has also planted an orchard with 10 fruit trees, raised flower and vegetable beds and a wooded area with about 200 beech, hazel and hawthorns.

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