What a treemendous week!
Sandringham School celebrated Science Week 2018 with an exciting whole school project in partnership with The Woodland Trust called Finish the Forest. The challenge was to get every student in the school out to Heartwood Forest in Sandridge, to plant at least one tree and to be part of a conservation project that has been running for almost 10 years. As a scientist, a biologist and a teacher with a personal interest in ecology, this project sounded exciting right from the start and it certainly didn’t disappoint! What an amazing opportunity to get the whole school talking about Science, Biology and sustainability.
Over 40 coach trips took students from every year group throughout the week to plant a final total of 2661 trees. The enthusiasm and resilience from students and staff in rain or shine was impressive. During Life Long Learning lessons all students had been asked to consider why they would plant their tree. Obviously I was hoping that many of the students would engage with sustainability topics and environmental issues such as global warming, biodiversity, deforestation, species conservation, and recycling. However, we were also happy for students to consider the wellbeing aspects of being in a Forest and planting trees as a dedication to someone or something.
Access the lesson resources here.
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Baroness Young, Chair of The Woodland Trust met with many of our 6th form students on Thursday and discussed topics such as biodiversity, agriculture, GM crops, and gender equality. She then joined some younger students at Heartwood to plant a tree. She also presented the School with the Gold Green Trees Schools Award from The Woodland Trust.
The final tree planted by students was on our school field. It is an English Oak regarded to have more species of wildlife associated with it than any other tree. There is a time capsule buried beneath it, hand crafted by the DT Faculty and filled by the Student Leadership Team.
Over 1500 students, staff and governors took part in this project, supporting the project in the field or back in school. Initially I had anticipated that the focus of this week would be to promote STEM subjects to our students. As the week progressed however, it became clear that there were many unexpected pastoral benefits. The elements of our character programme were evident in abundance among our students. Resilience and initiative were without question required! The leadership opportunities offered to students on the Student Leadership Team and Eco teams were grasped by many, and students successfully planned and delivered assemblies, raised money, and filled the time capsule. The team spirit demonstrated by each tutor group, challenging the next tutor group to beat their total, and each year group wanting to beat the next, encouraged aspirational planting totals that meant we smashed our target of at least 1 tree per person! Many staff commented on the value of having time with their tutor groups outside a classroom setting, giving time for informal conversations, and a chance to see different students shine in new surroundings. The LLL lesson gave the opportunity for students to consider the benefits of volunteering and the role of charities.
Planting a tree turned out to be a task that all students, of every ability and background could complete successfully. Staff and students worked with a common purpose, to finish the forest and make a difference for the future. I hope that students will remember this week, and perhaps one day return to Heartwood Forest to show their friends and families what they were part of.