A Swindon school is planting a special combination of fruit trees to enrich pupils’ lessons and eventually give back to the local community.
Development of the forest school area at Lawn Manor Academy started last year, but has recently stepped up a gear with apple, pear and cherry trees planted for the orchard and re-digging the existing pond.
The area, which was formerly overgrown and in need of attention, is being transformed by the forest school afterschool club, which meets weekly and is led by geography teacher and Forest School Lead Lee Horsford.
He said “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 planted to celebrate the late Queen's Platinum Jubilee, and the latest work has been undertaken thanks to a donation by former Governor, Nigel Cox, to commemorate his retirement.
The space is already being used to great effect by all in a variety of subject areas. 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.
Mr Horsford 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, and further information about the school can be found at www.lawnmanor.org
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