The first batch of trees from Queen’s Park Primary School’s tree-planting project have finally made it into the ground! Our school has no grounds beyond the tarmac playground, so the biggest challenge of the project was finding a suitable spot to plant out the potted trees which we had planted and nurtured. Luckily, we were able to team up with Varndean School, the secondary school to which about half of our children move on. Our contact there was Tim Speller, a DT teacher who has been doing great work rewilding their school campus, digging a pond, creating wildflower meadows and planting trees.
We took all of our Year 6 children (that’s 43 ten- and eleven-year-olds) on the public bus to Varndean, one afternoon in March. The trip occurred later in the year than originally planned, largely due to bureaucratic issues. If you’ve ever had to organise a school trip, you’ll know what a headache the paperwork can be; three different risk assessments (for the walk, for the bus and for the activity); itinerary; checking staff timetables and first aid certificates; booking bus tickets; liaising with the kitchen; writing to parents and collecting permission slips and, of course, organising funding (thank you to the Queen’s Park School Association!)
We got clearance for the trip in the end though, and the chosen day dawned grey and wet. The saplings had previously been transported up to the school by van, so it was just growing children, not trees, to get on the bus and the journey went well. Mr Speller had arranged for some of his Year 8 children to help us with the digging, which was much appreciated, and they seemed happy to be out of the classroom, despite the damp. Luckily, the rain was more drizzle than downpour so we could get on with the planting without too much complaining. Our children cheerfully wheeled the trees and stakes and guards in wheelbarrows the short distance from the eco-garden to the planting site. Nobody actually started singing “heigh-ho, heigh-ho”, but it certainly had that feel about it! We didn’t have a huge amount of time, but we managed to get about 20 saplings, mostly oaks with a handful of horse chestnuts, firmly planted in the ground. Mr Speller has promised that his Year 8s will plant the rest of them for us.
All in all, the trip was a great success. It feels like a great thing that some of our children will be able to watch those trees grow as they progress through their education.