Llanelli schoolchildren develop allotment for growing minds

10 October 2014

Green-fingered pupils at a Llanelli primary school are celebrating a bumper harvest and making plans to extend their thriving allotment.

The Swiss Valley School in Llanelli, Carmarthenshire set up their garden project in 2012 and since then they have grown a wide range of fruit and vegetables.

This year has been a bumper harvest for marrow, squash, courgettes, onions, tomatoes and sweetcorn. The pupils have even used their produce to make and sell their own chutney.

Now the hard work of harvesting is over, the school has put plans in place to extend the allotment. They aim to build a roundhouse shelter on site for more outdoor lessons and to dig their own small pond.

Teacher and garden leader Neil Lane says “We have gained planning permission to construct a roundhouse so we can spend more time learning outdoors, organising art and craft activities and so on.

“Plus the children are keen to dig a small pond to attract wildlife. We’d particularly like to attract some slug-eating frogs to the vegetable patch.”

Swiss Valley School works with the Cornerstones creative curriculum, which helps teachers design and deliver engaging and rigorous lessons through cross-curricular projects. Pupils are involved in working on the allotment as part of their daily lessons.

Neil said: “There are many different ways that the children develop numeracy, literacy and other skills through everything involved in growing radishes, runner beans, parsnips and potatoes.

“Pupils have kept a garden journal and write updates about their gardening work. They’ve been involved in seed, seedling and produce sales where they take money and give change.

“They’ve calculated the ingredients needed for chutney and, of course, are learning about fruit and vegetables and developing knowledge of the natural world and outdoor skills.

“The project has really engaged children from year one to year six and motivates them to get involved in all sorts of educational activities.”

Cornerstones curriculum director Melanie Moore: “The Swiss Valley Allotment project is a perfect example of an exciting educational initiative which is being used with the curriculum and not outside of it. It’s lovely to see the children so engaged in their work and proud of what they have learned and achieved.”

The Swiss Valley children saw a poster they created about their project win third prize at the Royal Welsh Show 2014. And, the school’s allotment won a regional business award run by the Welsh Assembly called Enterprise Troopers earlier this year.
Swiss Valley works with Cornerstones projects called Allotment, Global Gourmet and Growing Things to draw the best possible learning outcomes from their gardening venture.

Neil said: “It’s that trick of getting the children to learn without them realising they are learning. Gardening is hard work but they don’t see it as that and, as well as caring for plants and seeing them grow, they are always exploring, asking questions, working together, counting and experimenting.”

Swiss Valley’s allotment was set up by Mr Lane, teachers, local businesses and community volunteers in 2012 after the school gained funding from the Big Lottery Fund to cover the cost of the fencing, shed, raised beds and construction of paths.
Since then we have raised more than a £1,000 through seed, seedling and produce sales to plough back on to the project’s up-keep.

Parents get involved through Garden Open Days where they help with some of the heavier work and Neil also plans to expand community involvement through the ‘Groundforce Swiss Valley’ initiative. If you would like to get involved, please contact Neil on 01554 774063.

Notes to editor

Photograph shows (l-r) pupils at Swiss Valley Lucia Evans, Lola Kingsnorth, Harry Randell and Ethan Simmons with some of the things they have grown.

For further information, please contact Neil Lane at Swiss Valley School on 01554 774063.

For further information about Cornerstones, please contact Julia McInally at Cornerstones on 0844 335 0300 or j.mcinally@cornerstoneseducation.co.uk

The Cornerstones creative curriculum for three to 11-year-olds is used by more than a thousand schools in England and Wales.
Cornerstones’ educational resources are packed with exciting and engaging ways to help children learn; encouraging them to engage; develop skills, knowledge and understanding; innovate and express themselves; while at the same time providing comprehensive coverage of the government’s National Curriculum. Cornerstones resources are designed to help teachers deliver high quality lessons. They also save them time planning and enable them to spend more time with children in the classroom.
Cornerstones is based at Fields End Business Park, Goldthorpe, Barnsley, South Yorkshire S63 0JF, tel: 0844 335 0300, www.cornerstoneseducation.co.uk

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