We are very lucky at Holy Trinity School to have six acres of outside space to enjoy, from open playing fields to wild woodlands and streams. This includes part of the High Weald landscape, which is a designated area of outstanding natural beauty protected by a charity trust. During a regular school day the children have access to the playgrounds and throughout summer, weather permitting, the children are also allowed onto the large playing field where there are willow dens and some new play equipment. Beyond these general play areas, the grounds open up into meadow and woodland which are used for guided walks.
As well as the woods we also have a brand new outdoor classroom donated by our PTA which is fantastic for outdoor learning. There is a well-established vegetable garden tended by the children who join our lunchtime garden club and a sensory garden. At the centre of this garden is our plastic bottle greenhouse which is the pride of our garden club, allowing us to raise our own plants. This was built by a yr3/4 class and created to encourage recycling and eco awareness. One of the more recent addition to the grounds is a wildlife pond which already has a healthy population of insects and newts.
This pond and many of the other features in the grounds are created and maintained by parents on Grounds Days. These occur four or five times a year when we ask parents, grandparents, friends (anyone who's willing!) to come and lend a hand. These are not only a good way to explore the grounds further but also help to familiarise children with their school environment.
“I love Grounds Days. It is fun to explore and find new places, we make dens and climb trees. I normally bring my bike and scooter as the playgrounds are brilliant for riding on.” (Megan yr6).
“Grounds Days are good for mucking around and doing cool stuff in the woods.” (Flinn yr3).
Holy Trinity CE (A) Primary School, in Cuckfield, celebrated the opening of its purpose-built outdoor classroom on Friday 3rd December 2021. The opening ceremony involved children, school staff, the Parent Teacher Association, Grounds Team and Governors, as well as donors to the project, with the ribbon-cutting carried out by local philanthropist, Sir Richard Kleinwort.
Holy Trinity, has long-valued using its extensive grounds as a key part of the education of its pupils. The seven-acre site includes woodland, meadow habitats and a stream, all of which make it an ideal location for Forest School experiences, and a wealth of other educational activities.
The outdoor classroom plays a major role in bringing education into the natural learning environment. It is an eye-catching wooden construction, which combines beauty and practicality, featuring large tables and benches that can accommodate a whole class. Lighting and chalkboards have also been added.
Headteacher, Ann MacGregor, said: “Having a purpose-built outdoor classroom has been a dream of mine since I became Head here five years ago. Our children are so fortunate to have such wonderful school grounds, it is vital that we make them an integral part of the children’s day-to-day education.
“Now, thanks to the incredible generosity of local donors and grants, we have a wonderful outdoor space which not only supports the education of pupils, but also the mental health and emotional wellbeing of children and adults alike.”
Local philanthropist, Sir Richard Kleinwort (pictured), kindly agreed to cut the ribbon at the opening ceremony – he had made a financial contribution to the project. Other donations were received from the school’s PTA and Cuckfield Bonfire Society, as well as money from grant applications.
Guests, including Mid Sussex District Councillor, Robert Salisbury, and local landowner, Mrs Susan Mayou, were greeted by Holy Trinity’s Year 6 Values Ambassadors and led to the outdoor classroom via the school’s Forest School’s area. They were able to see a Year 6 class enjoying fire-building, badge-making and den-building activities as part of their termly Forest School session.
Four Ambassadors (Holly C, Luka G, Georgie H and Lars N) delivered speeches they had written, telling guests how much the outdoor facility meant to them and how it is used to deliver lessons and lunchtime nurture clubs. Paulina Hechenleitner, from the school’s dedicated Grounds Team, spoke about her role in delivering Forest School sessions, funded by the PTA, alongside Year 2 teacher, Gaby Dobson.
The outdoor classroom was built by Haywards Heath’s Bluebird Building Company, which was selected following the tendering process. Bluebird’s owner, Phil Merchant, whose children used to attend Holy Trinity said he built the structure “with love”.