I’d like to share a project which I led as part of my role as Creative Learning Coordinator at my school. This role was initially focused on coordinating Creative Partnerships where we created the Growing Greener creative learning programme. One of the first things that we did was turn our unused courtyard into an outdoor classroom. This was achieved by working with a range of ‘creative partners’ to design the new space.

We used the space for a variety of outdoor lessons and growing activities across the entire curriculum for two years. But as with any space or subject I thought about how it could be improved, enhanced and developed into something more – something that retains its original remit but also creates a new exciting learning environment to inspire our pupils. Below is a picture of the space at the start of last academic year.

We were lucky enough to be working with the Tees Valley Wildlife Trust who advised us on the best way to use the space in terms of logistics and conservation. The initial idea was to add a small willow fence and create another garden inside the courtyard. After thinking about this I knew I wanted it to be even more exciting. It was during a discussion with my class that we thought of the idea of growing a jungle. This had so many creative and cross-curricular links – science, conservation, geography, storytelling, literacy… the list goes on. We worked with the Shaw Trust to turn the space into something spectacular and I’m really proud to share it here.

Welcome… to the Jungle

In the above picture you can see that the small fence from the first picture has now been completed covered with willow screening to create a defined area. We also created a jungle effect on the outside of the area by installing large planters with exotic plants. Animals were cut out of wood and covered in blackboard paint – which are very popular as you can see!

Above you can see the entrance to the Jungle. Please note that this picture was taken before an explosion of life and foliage in the area. Heavy rainfall has really helped the jungle to ‘take root’ and grow. We are currently growing ivy and creepers across the ropes with the aim of creating a jungle canopy.

Above you can see the shed which has been completely transformed as well as the jungle planters. This area has now become a real haven for wildlife and a sanctuary for the children to use.

This has included some rare wildlife life like the Lime Hawk Moth which arrived one day while the children were working in the space. I was so pleased that the space has been used so much but also that wildlife was benefiting from it too.

We also had a bespoke speaker box made  to house our battery operated ‘boom box’ which now plays jungle sounds effects throughout the whole day. This really adds a great atmosphere and makes the Jungle a very special place in the middle of our school. Below you can watch a short video walk-through of the Jungle.

This really is just the beginning of a new chapter for the space and I’m really excited to see how it develops. I haven’t seen it after the summer break but I have a feeling I’m going to be surprised when I return to school next week. That’s the thing with nature… you never know what is going to happen next!