Local schools win the chance to build nature gardens

Three Leicester schools have won the opportunity to create a wildlife area worth £3,500 in their grounds, in a competition organised by Leicestershire and Rutland Wildlife Trust.

Belgrave St Peter’s, Sandfield Close and Sparkenhoe Community primary schools were selected by a panel of four judges after submitting their designs for natural spaces. The Trust’s team of Grow Wild gardeners will now help the schools to turn their creations into a reality.

The judges were impressed by pupils’ creativity, with the winning entries demonstrating clear planning and imagination. Children from Belgrave St Peter’s produced a short animation of their dream garden coming to life through play-doh models, Sparkenhoe Community Primary presented a colourful plan of their proposed wildlife area, while Sandfield Close pupils created a miniature living model of what they hoped to build.

11 schools from across the city submitted their ideas to the panel, which comprised Leicester City Council senior nature conservation officer Dr Helen O’Brien, council environmental education co-ordinator Lee Jowett, Leicestershire and Rutland Wildlife Trust education officer Rachel Ibbotson, and Grow Wild gardener Matthew Herbert. The judges had a tough time choosing the winners, with strong competition across the board.

Lee Jowett commented: “The quality of the entries was excellent and very imaginative. There has clearly been a lot of hard work put into the designs and the competition was very difficult to pick just 3 winners.”

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

The competition was run as part of Leicestershire and Rutland Wildlife Trust’s Wild Forest School initiative, which provides youngsters with valuable opportunities to play and learn outside. In addition to the wildlife gardens, the charitable Trust is working with 10 schools across the city to provide free outdoor learning sessions for pupils.

Grow Wild gardener Matthew Herbert said: “The winning schools showed imagination and a real commitment to learning through nature. They communicated that to us in a way that allowed us to feel the passion, excitement and possibilities of their designs.

 “These gardens wouldn’t be possible without the generous support received from players of People’s Postcode Lottery. They will make a real difference to the schools involved and their pupils for years to come.”

Leicestershire and Rutland Wildlife Trust will start work with the schools in the next few weeks, with the aim of having the wildlife gardens ready by Christmas.