Swindon school works to plant an orchard to offer pupils new learning opportunities

By Jessica Durston - 30 May 2023


Lawn Manor Academy is now planting a special combination of fruit trees with aims of enriching pupils’ lessons and eventually giving back to the local community.

The development work of the forest school area started last year, but is said to have recently been stepped up a gear with the planting of apple, pear and cherry trees for the orchard, and the recent redigging of the existing pond.

The area, which staff said was formerly overgrown and in need of attention, is being transformed by the forest school afterschool club, which meets weekly. The club is led by Geography teacher and Forest School lead Lee Horsford.

Lee explained: “As we continue to clear out and plant the area, we’ve got some great opportunities to use it as an ecological area and quiet space for pupils to access.

“The trees came from the Woodland Trust and are all native species.  We’ve planted one section as a defined wood and we will have another section designed as an exploratory wood where pupils can walk in and around the trees and learn. 

“A lot of the trees we’ve just planted are young and so it will be a couple of years before they start producing fruit.  When they do, we plan to use the fruit in cookery lessons, and also plant a vegetable patch.  We’ll make soup and pies and donate them to charities that support the homeless in Swindon.”

The centrepiece of the orchard is an apple tree that was planted to celebrate the Jubilee, and the latest work has been undertaken thanks to a donation by former Governor, Nigel Cox, to commemorate his retirement.

It is a space that is said to have already been used to great effect by all in a variety of different subject areas.  Lawn Manor staff say their pupils have been using it as part of their fieldwork for geography, studying ecosystems in science classes, learning about ratios in maths, and using it as a quiet reading space in English lessons.

The forest school and orchard are also central to developing the relationship between Lawn Manor Academy and primary schools in the area, with schools coming together to plan lessons that complement learning, as well as smoothing the transition for new pupils who will be starting Lawn Manor Academy in Year Seven.

Lee added: “We’re very fortunate to have this space and be able to use it to boost our pupils’ learning as well as build ties with our local primary schools.  

"Primary school pupils who will be joining us next academic year will spend a whole day in the forest school before they start, so when they’re here in September they are already familiar with it and already have good memories of learning.”

Lawn Manor Academy is part of the Ascend Learning Trust. More information about the school can be found on its website at www.lawnmanor.org.

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