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School clinches top award
Wednesday, 25 July 2012
PRIMARY schools everywhere could take a leaf out of Okehampton Primary’s book, as the school has claimed second place in a top environmental award.
Against tough competition from schools across six counties, Okehampton Primary took silver in the Royal Forestry Society’s Schools Excellence Award. For their efforts the school was presented with a certificate, trophy, £500 prize money and a Blenheim Orange apple tree by judges Debbie Cotton and Richard Pain.
The annual RFS awards recognise best practice across four categories, with the schools award presented for inspirational projects from nursery through to age 18.
The two-term project, led by the school’s eco-co-ordinator Fran Rickwood, had a special focus to teach children about the ecological importance of Devon’s hedgerows and their role in supporting populations of dormice.
The project was particularly praised for its whole-school approach, tailoring sessions to each year group.
Youngsters made dormice boxes, learned about the importance of hedges as a habitat in the classroom, monitored a local dormouse population with a Dartmoor park ranger, and enjoyed a visit by a local dormouse specialist, who brought along a real dormouse for each class to meet.
Children also acted out an interactive story on how to look after hedges, and it was so successful a group of children went to the Devon County Show to perform the show to the public.
One of the judges, RFS education officer Debbie Cotton, said: ‘Fran really left no stone unturned both in terms of teaching methods and curriculum links, and her contact with outside organisations and individuals.
‘We were staggered at the effort she had gone to to look at the topic from every possible angle and to include everyone at the school.’
Fran said: ‘We were thrilled when we heard about receiving the silver award.
‘The children have really enjoyed learning about dormice and hedges this year and we are looking forward to carrying our project over into the next academic year with the help of the prize money.
‘Our hedges are looking great at the moment and our Year 3 children are searching through their leaves for mini-beasts as part of their outdoor learning focus for this half-term.’
The long-term aim is to produce a children’s story book written and illustrated by pupils about a dormouse and its life in a Devonshire woodland or hedge. Children have been working with storyteller Clive Pig to help bring the project to fruition.
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Sir Ray Tindle
Something to sell?