Leicestershire & Rutland Wildlife Trust turns children’s playground dreams into a reality

Children at Sparkenhoe Community Primary School have added the finishing touches to a new wildlife area in their playground, with help from Leicestershire and Rutland Wildlife Trust’s team of Grow Wild gardeners.Sparkenhoe was one of the three schools to win the ‘My Wild Life Adventure Competition’, part of the Trust’s Wild Forest School project, supported by players of People’s Postcode Lottery. The competition invited all Leicester city primary schools to submit a design of a nature zone that they would like to have created in their grounds.

The judges were particularly impressed by the pupils’ colourful creativity, which demonstrated clear planning and imagination, and invited the Trust’s team of gardeners to turn their dream into a reality.

One of the judges, Dr Helen O’Brien, council senior nature conservation officer, commented: “The winning entrants really showed how the school and local community were going to get involved in creating their own wildlife area at their school. These areas are so important for our wildlife here in Leicester and help to provide a safe haven for species to survive and thrive.”

When designing their garden, the children at Sparkenhoe were keen to attract wildlife to their school grounds, have somewhere to grow fruit and vegetables, and create an area where they could sit and study their new visitors.

The Grow Wild gardeners started work on the school’s wildlife area over the summer, putting in a new pond, raised beds and bespoke seating. After the holidays, the children added the finishing touches, creating various zones designed to attract different species to the school. They helped plant up the pond, constructed a minibeast hotel and planted bulbs ready for spring.

Zain-Ul Islam, aged seven, was one of the pupils who helped to create the school’s new garden. Zain-Ul said: “We planted things in the pond, we saw insects and used logs to make homes for them to live in. There were so many worms under one log! It was exciting and very interesting to learn about bugs.”

Katherine Burns, sen coordinator at Sparkenhoe commented: “This has been an exciting project for the children. It isn't often that they get to plan ideas for a space that was underused and see those plans come to life. It was fantastic to win the competition and get the children involved in the work. The other classes that have visited have all thought it was wonderful. Year 2 used it as inspiration for their World Peace Day peace gardens. I shall enjoy planting cabbages and beans for the school kitchen with the Year 2 and Year 5 garden clubs.”

The competition was one of the many exciting activities organised by Leicestershire and Rutland Wildlife Trust’s Wild Forest School Project this year thanks to valuable funding from players of People’s Postcode Lottery.

Grow Wild gardener Matthew Herbert said: “These gardens wouldn’t be possible without the generous support of the public. They will make a real difference to the schools involved and their pupils for years to come.”