Class Activities: All classes were involved in an ECOMAD day on February 27th. Classes were tasked will designing and making products to address the environmental problems identified by their classes. All classes came up with wonderful designs, from teapot nesters in Year 2, to bug habitats and wild flower planters. On the day, our local MP visited the school to find out what we were up to, accompanied by local press. Also this month, Year 6 and Year 5 enjoyed a wonderful presentation by Dr Dan Carpenter from the Earthworm Society before getting down to digging in the dirt and discovering green worms. In addition, Year 3 were visited by Vinnie from Kew Gardens to help them understand the importance of wild flowers to pollinators, in preparation for their sowing activity in Blundell’s Copse. Meanwhile, the reception classes spent time identifying winter twigs, engaging their curiosity, before using the twigs in maths activities to compare lengths and make a range of shapes. Finally, the ECOMAD Club visited Green Park Business Park, to do a spot of pond dipping to understand how pond life can indicate the level of pollution, and visited Blundell’s Copse with our STEM Ambassador to listen to bird song and identify birds. We were fortunate enough to watch a Greater Spotted Woodpecker.
Community: Children have been involved in a two volunteering activities in March. Working with Conservation in Reading on Wednesdays (CROW), Year 3 created wild woodland flower beds on the edge of Blundell’s Copse. Richard Pearse worked with the Year 3 teacher to create a maths focussed activity in which children marked out three 10m2 areas to seed. Also, Year 5 learnt about coppicing in Blundell’s Copse, cutting stools and building insect habitats. Finally, following the visit by our local MP, Alok Sharma, all classes presented their work to parents in special ECOMAD exhibition in the school hall, providing a further opportunity to gather feedback about the project.
Pat continues to support the NQTs at Churchend to organise and run forest school activities at Rushall Farm. This has seen groups of 15 children going out to Rushall Farm on a weekly basis with help from Pat. Furthermore, Pat has passed her forest school assessment and now is working to gather final evidence to become an accredited forest school leader. In addition, Reduce Energy Ltd was invited to speak at the weekly staff meeting to highlight how children and staff can make small behavioural changes to help reduce the environment impact of the school. As a consequence, we are investigating the possibility of installing a large scale wormery to compost kitchen waste, inspired by the Year 6 investigation.
Project impact surveys have now been sent out to all school staff and parents, with early results suggesting that over 70% of parents, who responded, believe their child(ren) have shown greater interest in science this year, as a result of the project. Furthermore, 95% of children are discussing the project with parents at home. This is also supported by comments received from parents on video. The survey and interviews with parents have also provided valuable ideas for how the project could evolve in the future. At the same time, the teaching staff survey suggests that 90% of staff feel more confident talking about science and the environment and 90% of staff have identified new ways of teaching maths and sciences as a result of the project.