Five students from the University of Chichester have helped create an outdoor environment for learning at Thakeham Primary School.
Maddie Rogers, Lauren Eade, Terri Worsley, Cindy Forsyth and Amy Kelly – nicknamed the Forest Fairies – worked together to clear the area for forest school sessions as part of a university project they were assigned to at Christmas.
Maddie said: “This was hands on and hard work. We went prepared with our gloves and choppers. We asked parents to come and help finish the clearing after school on one day.
“We researched forest schools and visited lots of other sites including Worthing College and Palatine School to speak to their forest leaders and look at their resources. It was very useful to visit other forest schools and we would like to thank all the schools we spoke to for being so accommodating and helpful.
“We were given a budget, funded through sponsorship from Abingworth Meadows and Oakford Homes. We managed to source pallets and tires, wood and logs for free from multiple generous sources. At the end of our project we were well under budget, which left the school with some funds to maintain and develop the area as and when.”
On Wednesday afternoon (March 28), Martin Field from Oakford Homes opened the forest school while the five students ran a workshop with the school children to create a mosaic table, bug hotel and log store.
Maddie added: “The children at the school were fantastic and so well behaved throughout the day.
“Sam Norton (headteacher of Thakeham Primary School) and Emma Hoare (deputy) have been amazing the entire time. They have been clear with their expectations and desires, and ever so supportive with our university project. They gave us freedom within the area and appreciated our enthusiasm and commitment to the project. It will be nice to return to the school later in the year for their official school opening (as they only moved to their current site in September 2017).
“We had lots of positive praise during the opening which was lovely.
“It has been a fantastic experience for us all and has provided us with many opportunities to develop skills. My weeding skills are top notch.”