Wildscape helping pupils to make most of great outdoors

Dore Primary School pupils are pictured after staging a play, Rebecca's World, in their amphitheatre in the school grounds
Dore Primary School pupils are pictured after staging a play, Rebecca's World, in their amphitheatre in the school grounds

Children at four schools in Sheffield are benefiting from improved landscaped areas that have made learning outside in the natural environment more accessible.

On all four projects, the schools worked in partnership with local environmental and landscape design consultancy Wildscapes.

At Dobcroft Infant School, Wildscapes enhanced the biodiversity of the school’s Green Flag accredited wildlife garden by providing landscape maintenance and pond work, as well as installing rustic furniture and creating planting schemes. Wherever possible, pupils can now take lessons in the landscaped area, to develop an understanding of how plants, insects and animals grow and the need to protect the environment.

Dobcroft teacher Collette Waters said: “It was very important that the work was carried out in such a way that our existing wildlife was protected. Wildscapes’ knowledge and expertise meant we were able to create a community wildlife garden, which is not just for use by our pupils, but is also open to the general public for outdoor learning.

“We are delighted with our new landscaped area and have received some fantastic feedback from pupils, parents and the general public. It is so important to young people’s development that they can learn outdoors and we have the perfect environment for them now to do so.”

At Waterthorpe Infant School, the landscape design consultancy enhanced the natural play area of the school grounds, creating a bog garden, planting a native hedgerow and providing outdoor seating. At Woodthorpe School, Wildscapes created a memorial garden for an ex-teacher, including planting cherry trees and a wildflower meadow and installing large stoned-filled gabion cages, along with burying a time capsule.

Wildscapes also worked with Dore Primary School to create wildlife-friendly landscaped grounds for the school and local community and designed and built a striking timber amphitheatre. This has enabled teaching staff to really bring outdoor learning to life through lessons in the amphitheatre, which will also be used to host musical performances in the summer months.

On all the schemes, the young people took part in interactive planting days with Wildscapes’ landscape designers.

Wildscapes’ chief executive Vicky Smith said: “The Government, through its recently-released Environment White Paper, is encouraging people to develop a passion for the natural world from an early age. It is great to see so many Sheffield schools putting this into practice and really helping future generations to develop a greater appreciation of our environment by learning through nature.”

Linda Baldwin of Sheffield Wildlife Trust said: “By encouraging children to play outdoors and gain confidence in their abilities, we can help increase their activities and levels of fitness, as well as boost their self esteem. This can result in children spending more time outside and help them develop a sense of responsibility for looking after their natural environment.”

Wildscapes is a Sheffield environmental consultancy that provides ecological surveys, ground maintenance and landscape creation to protect biodiversity across the Yorkshire and Humber regions. As well as undertaking surveys and advising on ecological issues, Wildscapes designs landscapes and provides land management services, which improve the environment for wildlife and for people.