Bug hotels, reading thrones and a secret fairy garden at Haddon Dene school

Youngsters at the new Haddon Dene outdoor space

Haddon Dene Preparatory School has unveiled a new outdoor space with bug hotels, a secret fairy garden and reading thrones.

The site is the creation of Forest School leader Nadine McBride and PFA chair Zoe Green who worked alongside contractors N. Uden Civil Engineering throughout the Easter holidays to make the space ready for use.

Previously waste ground at the rear of the Broadstairs school, the new outdoor learning environment is now a usable space for all types of lessons such as science, art, PSHE and maths.

Children from across the school have enjoyed outdoor lessons where they have planted their own fruits, vegetables and herbs.  The children have created the bug hotels to attract different species of insects and early years pupils have made full use of the mud kitchen area, providing a fantastic opportunity to role play and build gross motor skills.

A climbing frame has been installed using sustainable and recycled materials and a pathway has been built, leading to the secret fairy garden. Inside the garden are two huge reading thrones where the children can read in peace and tranquility.

Earlier this year, Haddon Dene won a Green Schools Award for their commitment to improving the local environment.  Classes regularly go out and conduct beach cleans, collecting over 25 bin bags of rubbish so far.  This new outdoor environment will teach the children about the need to preserve natural habitats and the importance bees and insects play in our food chains.

Children will also learn about food sustainability, looking at the process from seed to plate.  Each class have designed additional features for the outdoor learning environment using recycled materials.  Year 4 pupils have already created a waterfall feature using recycled plastic bottles.

As Mrs McBride is forest school trained, the longer-term aim is to install a fire pit where the children will learn how to make their own fires safely.  The school is also looking into the possibility of housing rare breed chickens in a purpose-built coop.

Newly promoted headmistress Joanne Parpworth said: “This space is invaluable.  Mrs McBride and Mrs Green have gone above and beyond to create a space which will enhance and deepen the learning of our children.

“There they will learn about the importance of environment preservation and how to be more creative with everyday recycled items.  Our core curriculum will be enhanced during these outdoor lessons and as a result, the children will develop wider skill sets important for success later in life.”