Our latest Charter Branch:
Welcome to Bredon Hill Academy in Worcestershire, who have signed up as our latest Charter Branch. They recently took part in the Tree Dressing Day activity, using the pack that we developed with Common Ground to collect Tree Charter stories.
Bredon Hill Academy Eco team were inspired by the Tree Charter campaign to celebrate National Tree Week and dress the friendship cherry tree in their new form gardens area. Form representatives distributed paper leaves, downloaded as part of our information pack from Common Ground, and brought them back to our meeting filled with comments and thoughts about the importance of trees and woodland.
The school dedicated their Eco notice board to the event, pinning the leaves up so that they could be easily read before hanging them on the low branches of a tree at the centre of the school. The activity was discussed at form time and the diversity of comments was impressive covering biodiversity, climate, food, fuel, habitat preservation, recreation and an overwhelming appreciation for trees and woodland.
Sara Bankes, eco coordinator at the school said ‘We enjoyed taking part in the tree dressing, the pupils comments were diverse and thought provoking, they ranged from the things they had learnt in lessons and eco meetings about climate and biodiversity to personal comments for example “we wouldn’t have food, fuel or tree houses”. I was proud of the comments the pupils wrote on the leaves and the whole school enthusiasm for our project.’
Bredon Hill Academy has an active and enthusiastic eco team, which carries out lots of activities to learn about and protect nature. In eco meetings, the pupils have looked at photos taken in the local woods,. Sara says ‘One showed a snail which had a smaller bug on it (later identified as a springtail) as well as tiny dots of unidentifiable life. This led to a conversation about the important part of woodland being the ancient mulch and microscopic life which takes hundreds of years to form and cannot quickly or easily be replaced by new planting.’
Bredon Hill Academy also has a lunchtime and after school gardening club with over fifty pupil gardeners which ensures that the school grounds are continually improving and suitable for the many lessons outside – almost every subject regularly makes use of the gardens and wildlife areas. Each class has a garden space to express themselves, with a link to the form teachers’ subject ensuring a cross curricular plot This is a brilliant way to link nature to the curriculum.
The garden and nature enrichment group have been studying trees on the site and comparing them to local woodland. The after school gardening club have also been pruning the fruit trees. The pupils are often rewarded with short woodland walks.
‘We have achieved the RHS level four school gardening award and are working towards level five which we are planning to apply for this summer. We have used your lovely resources and found them to be widely enjoyed, accessible and informative. They are easily understood, aesthetically pleasing and suitable for all ages and abilities. We gained the Woodland Trust Gold award a few years ago and are now working towards platinum.’ Sara Bankes
This year for the first time the school has introduced enrichment afternoons where pupils choose an activity for one afternoon a fortnight for a term. Sara was encouraged to offer a garden and nature session, which has been hugely successful and is a popular choice for next term. As part of this, one of the activities was to survey the trees on the school’s site and compare with the woodland a field away from school on Bredon hill.
For this they were accompanied by a Woodland Trust representative, who shared her knowledge and enthusiasm with the pupils. ‘These links really help to raise the esteem of the pupils and interest by the wider community, such external verification of our work is invaluable.’
They have worked together with the photography enrichment group who have been taking pictures of the eco-group’s work, producing photos of trees for our platinum award and have asked to join in on the next woodland walk. The craft enrichment group helped to do the Tree Dressing Day tree and the cookery group used some of their produce.
A Charter Branch:
The school have now signed up as a Charter Branch and are looking forward to collecting lots more tree stories and raising awareness of the role of trees and woods in our lives. With the help of a Tesco grant, the school will be improving their ponds, swamp and compost area this winter.
We are doing so many lovely brilliant things, transforming our school grounds and spreading our ideas and next year will contain many successes.