Rothwell Primary School, Leeds
Rothwell Primary School in Leeds has around 269 pupils and although modern, it had a large rundown area within the school boundary that was ‘crying out’ to be put to good use. The headteacher, wanted to see this piece of waste ground transformed into a wildlife garden for pupils to enjoy, but with a limited budget and little experience of landscaping, she simply did not know where to start. That is where Pinnacle PSG came in.
Delivering on commitments
Pinnacle PSG’s facilities management team manage school buildings, ground maintenance, cleaning and catering services across 10 Primary Schools in Leeds. In the summer of 2010 PFM were approached by Janet Booth, the Headteacher from Rothwell Primary School, for help to turn the idea for the sensory garden project into a reality.
Conscious that the school had a limited budget, Pinnacle PSG was instrumental in bringing in a local volunteer group BTCV to help advise on the various elements to be contained within the garden and then design and construct the site. BTCV is a national charity set up in 1959 and today has a successful track record of environmental conservation throughout the UK as well as around the world.
Working with the community
The first stage was to agree with the headteacher what the garden was to contain. The brief was extensive. As well as a nice garden, the school wanted an allotment area, sensory garden, raised beds, a bird garden, a ‘mini beast’ area and external classroom. They also expressed a concern that the area needed to be DDA compliant.
Measuring Pinnacle PSG’s success
Work began in early September and took just over four weeks to complete. Although it will not be seen at its best until the spring of 2011, the garden was an instant hit with pupils, teachers and parents.
As well as planted areas, it has a seating area with benches that can seat over 50 children. The whole garden is accessible by wheelchair and specially constructed raised planting beds ensure anyone with a physical disability can take an active part in the project. A dedicated sensory garden also provides the right stimulus for visually impaired children.
A polytunnel provides an ideal location to grow plants from seed and a compost area ensures garden waste is recycled throughout the year. One corner of the garden is dedicated to birds and wildlife. Special screening allows children to observe birds feeding, whilst strategically located rotting logs and other organic matter provide the right habitat for a wide range of creepy crawly insects. All designed to boost biodiversity complimenting the wildlife garden ecosystem.
The finishing touch was a centrally located pergola outdoor classroom with seating that allows all aspects of the garden to be observed by up to 30 children.
The project was completed on time and on budget (around £13,000) and head teacher, Janet Booth, was delighted with the finished result. “The whole area has been transformed from a unused and uninspiring area of grass into a garden that all pupils will take great pride in developing”, said Janet.
“We cannot thank enough all those that gave up so much of their spare time to make this happen”, she added.
Pinnacle grounds maintenance staff have also volunteered to work with the school and its gardening clubs to advise and assist with the planting.