In 2007 an Environmental Studies programme for students with Special Education Needs and Disabilities began. The students selected for the “Environmental Studies” programme work in one to one or in small groups of two or three, together with a Higher Level Teaching Assistant.
A small grant from the Exeter Episcopal School Trust together with Curriculum Development funding from Beacon Learning Community, has been used to enhance the existing garden and environment area, in one corner of the school site. Raised beds, an outdoor classroom and a poly tunnel have been built to provide growing areas and shelter from the elements. The student use the green house and the poly tunnel student to propagate and grow a variety of vegetables and flowers. Gardening tools have been purchase with the funds raised from selling produce or donated from charity organisations.
Local craftsmen created our wonderful thatched outdoor classroom to shelter the students from the sun and the rain. We invited one of the presenters of the BBC’s “Gardener’s World” Toby Buckland to formally open the thatched shelter and held an open day for parents and staff to see the wonderful work that the students are doing. It was a great joy to see so many of our staff there to support the Environmental Studies students and witness their pride in having grown such a beautiful and productive garden.
Devon Wildlife Trust visit and work with students on a regular basis, with activities such as ‘Pop up Forest’. During the forest school sessions the students try their hand at fire lighting, whittling and wood crafts. Devon Wildlife Trust also provide us with the opportunity to improve the local environment with projects such as heath clearing at Meeth Quarry and park management at Ludwell valley. This supports the student’s involvement in ‘Wildlife Champions’, which hopes to develop and nurture students to be environmentally aware in the future.
Past successes include several students being selected to attend the Chelsea Flower Show to represent the school and to talk to members of the public about their gardening successes. Prior to the success of Chelsea, the Environmental Studies team entered the Fermoys’ School Garden Competition with their creation “Food Miles”. The team came 9th out of 35 entries which is a fantastic achievement for their first attempt. Three students attended the County Show, they worked on the Fermoys stand promoting St Peter’s entry and encouraging visitors to vote for us!
The team would like to thank everyone for their continued support and look forward to growing even more award-winning produce next year! If you have any gardening expertise to offer the team, please contact Mrs Wickenden at the school. We are always keen to learn more!