School’s new eco-garden

Parents can ‘weed while they wait’ for their children at a Derbyshire primary school when its new eco-garden dream becomes a reality.
A ‘flight path’ eco-garden is being created at St Thomas Catholic Voluntary Academy, in Ilkeston, after the school secured £10,000 from East Midlands Airport’s eco-gardens project.
Work is due to start shortly on creating the garden and Headteacher Michael Sellors said everyone was excited to see it come to life.
He said: “The children and staff are looking forward to having an eco-garden where the children can grow their own vegetables and care for local wildlife. We will also have a “weed while you wait” space for parents collecting their children at the end of the day.”
The school is one of eight in the St Ralph Sherwin Catholic Multi Academy Trust that was successful in bidding for the funds.

Pupils who make up St Thomas’ Sustainability Squad have all been heavily involved in planning the garden.
Their design was inspired by the flight path maps that show the migration of ducks, geese and swans that visit the local nature reserve, Straws Bridge, and land on the school’s roof.
Gemma Shelbourne, a Teaching Assistant at St Thomas who oversees the Sustainability Squad, said: “Our pupils submitted a video where they talked about what we wanted in our eco-garden and that was part of our application. We wanted to bring wildlife in and the inspiration was the ducks that land on our school roof.
“We are all excited to see the plans become a reality. The children have been building bird feeders and bringing them in, they are really enthusiastic and they keep asking when the garden will be ready.”
It is hoped that work will start shortly on creating the garden and that it will be completed by the autumn.
Schools were asked by the airport to submit designs for gardens or green spaces that substantially boost biodiversity and lead to improved wellbeing.
The proposals were evaluated by a panel of experts which included representatives from the airport’s corporate social responsibility team, Derbyshire Wildlife Trust and the parks, green spaces and environmental management team at South Derbyshire District Council.
The submissions were assessed against several criteria. The designs needed to demonstrate how the gardens would make existing space environmentally richer and more diverse, improve biodiversity, stimulate outdoor learning, and have wellbeing benefits.
Jo Pettifer, Sustainability Project Co-ordinator for the St Ralph Sherwin CMAT, worked with schools on their garden proposals.
She said: “I am delighted that eight of our schools were successful in securing funds. The pupils have worked so hard, carrying out wildlife audits, planning their designs, discussing them with their teachers and filming presentations for the competition. I am so grateful that East Midlands Airport is rewarding all that hard work, what a triumph.”



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