Work begins to transform wasteland into kids learning space

Green-fingered staff have been digging, weeding and chopping to create a vibrant outdoor learning area for schoolchildren.

Workers at Coleham Primary School and their families have been clearing wasteland for the new forest school for reception children, which will hopefully be open in September.

In a spirited community effort, staff including the caretaker, admin staff, sports coach, teachers and teaching assistants are involved.

The plan is to create an area centred around an adventurous physical assault course and low ropes trail to improve gross motor skills.

Early years foundation stage leader Chrissi Harris said: "I am overwhelmed by the support of our staff with this project. We are seeing more and more that our children need opportunities to develop their gross motor skills, balance and coordination and so access to a physical assault course is vital for their development."

Local early years business Inside Out Learning have been consulted to advise on design. The forest school area will also include a treasure station for fine motor skills, outdoor art, den building, digging area, wildlife area, and tool station.

Inside Out founder Franky Giani said: "I'm delighted to work with Coleham School on their vision. In preparation, the children visited our woodland setting in Belle Vue over a number of weeks so we could plan a design based around the children's interests and fascinations. The children have all been involved by requesting their favourite activites. Outdoor learning is so important to ignite all senses and encourage 'learning by doing' something Coleham is great at nurturing."

The school grounds lie in Shrewsbury's historic conservation area and already includes a forest school area with a listed folly originally from St Mary's Church in Battlefeld. Their Forest School programme includes all year groups from years 1-6.

Headteacher Claire Jones said: "This is going to be a wonderful addition to our early years classrooms. Outdoor Learning is a big part of our ethos and creative curriculum and this can be specifically tailored to the needs of our youngest children and can be accessed by them every day. Once the staff have an idea, its so lovely to see the whole team get behind it and invest their personal time to make it happen. I'm so pleased with their efforts, it will have a huge impact on the children."

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