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New garden classroom opens in Wetley Rocks

By Leek Post and Times  |  Posted: July 20, 2014

By Leslie Jackson

  • Pupils and headteacher Kiana Higton get the feel of their new classroom.

  • Hebe Swindail and Jacob Swift-Holdcroft, both aged 11, at the entrance to the new building

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A new outdoor learning classroom has been opened at a primary school after £6,500 was raised.

Over the last few years members the Eco Club at St John's Primary School in Wetley Rocks have spent their time thinking of different ways of trying help others.

They have knitted blankets for Romania; donated special drinking straws to purify water for children in Africa; raised funds to adopt acres of rainforest in Ecuador; supported a Chinese orphanage through the Cocoa charity; and dedicated fund-raising events to a specific chosen charity of the year. This year's is The Gingerbread Centre, a charity which supports families in crisis.

Last year the Eco Club started to think of a project they could take on which would enhance their own school environment and benefit every pupil.

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Deputy headteacher, Justin Clarke, said: "The children decided that it was time that, alongside all of their other fund-raising projects, they should consider a specific need of our school.

"The pupils realised that we would all benefit from an outdoor learning environment.

"From that moment on we searched high and low for a suitable structure and were really excited when we found The Arctic Cabin company.

"They came out to the school, carried out a site survey and then gave us a very competitive quote.

"Then we went into full fund-raising mode and were thrilled to have been given very generous donations from our school PTA, the Eco Club and several other people.

"After raising £6,500 we were able to proceed. The Eco Club have christened it The Garden Lodge.

"Outdoor learning has never been so much fun!"

The Garden Lodge has now been officially opened in front of the whole school in the Millennium Garden. The red ribbon, held by the school's Oak King and Willow Queen, was cut by Mrs Pauline Clarke. The lodge was then blessed by the Reverend Steve Parker.

Pupil Joe Birkin, aged 11, said: "It's surprising how big it is. I really love it!"

Hebe Swindail, aged 11, said: "It's a great environment to work in and the children are very excited about learning outdoors."

Tom Cocks, aged 11, said: "Our Garden Lodge was excellent value for money and will really help with learning." Headteacher Diana Higton said the Garden Lodge was a very exciting addition to the school. She said: "As our school expands in numbers staff often find it difficult to find a space outside of their classroom to work with the children on drama activities, circle time and storytelling.

"The Garden Lodge is an ideal venue for these activities.

"We are extremely grateful to the generous sponsors who have enabled us to purchase it."

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