“Our school has an Eco Club for children from years 4, 5 and 6 which meets every week with 2 adult facilitators. The children voted for three areas to focus on this year: waste, healthy living and biodiversity. We decided to apply for a free tree pack to create a lovely native hedge and greatly increase the biodiversity of our garden.

There were several more reasons we applied:

  • there is a theory that children must develop their love of nature before expecting them to become environmentalists. In the words of David Attenborough, ‘No one will protect what they don’t care about, and no one will care about what they have never experienced.’
  • to tackle climate change, something pupils have been learning about
  • our school tries to learn outside where practical, but on sunny days, children have sometimes been forced inside to work. The hedge would provide some much-needed shade as it grows.
  • one of our garden areas is in great need of development, with long bare fence lines. The hedge pack seemed to provide a solution.

Getting ready for our hedge

The application process was straightforward and we were delighted to hear we’d been successful!

We thought the UN’s International Day of Forests on 21 March was a perfect fit for our planting day. To prepare, we measured out the area, dug over the soil (adults only, as it’s heavy clay) and sourced good local compost and bark chips.

In the classroom, we learned about photosynthesis, classification and scientific  plant names. The children researched individual hedge plants and their benefits for wildlife and made posters to display near the hedge. They were delighted to learn about the hawthorn shieldbug, whose main diet is hawthorn which we have planted.

On the day

The Eco Club were summoned from a school assembly for their 'secret mission' - to collect wellies and gloves and plant our hedge. Every child was able to plant at least one tree with its spiral protector. We gave out ‘I planted a tree today’ stickers to prompt questions from others. The children later reported back about their secret mission and we invited everyone - approx 200 pupils and staff - to see our hedge.

30
saplings in the hedge pack
26
children in the eco club
200
pupils will benefit from the hedge

How the hedge will support future learning

With our hedge safely in the ground, we’re monitoring and enjoying its development. Perhaps we’ll plant flowers under it once it’s established. We’ll check the spiral guards for any problems and make sure that it is watered if necessary, as the location is windy.

As biodiversity is one of our focus areas, our Eco Club will grow flowers for pollinators and vegetables this season and we’ll be observing the wildlife in our gardens. Hopefully we’ll see an increase in birds and other wildlife as the hedge develops.

There is certainly scope for another hedge pack within our school grounds so we may apply again in the future. The scheme has already given our children opportunities to:

  • plant a tree
  • learn about how trees help increase local biodiversity
  • get close to nature and get their hands dirty
  • share in a fun and inspiring group project.

For me personally, it's been a wonderful experience. It was easy to apply and I feel it is having a big impact – aside from the satisfaction of planting 30 new trees at this critical time, doing something positive to help combat climate change and improving the local ecosystem, it has the potential to inspire both children and adults. I'm keen now to plant a native hedge of my own – I’d never considered it before!”

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