Junior School children at Cokethorpe School designed and planted twenty floral hanging baskets, which were given to deserving members of the community as part of their Level Five RHS Gardening Award.
Forming part of the RHS Campaign for School Gardening, the scheme aims to inspire schools and encourage young people to get involved with gardening. There are five levels to complete, each with rewards for the School. To achieve the fifth and final award and become a five star gardening school, pupils had to create a project that involved the local community. During Environmental Studies Week, children across the whole School contributed to the hanging baskets, including budgeting, decorating, shopping, designing and planting the baskets.
Every child in the School nominated a worthy recipient of a finished basket, and the twenty lucky winners were selected at random in School assembly. Nominations were received for relatives, neighbours, members of the community and residential/care homes across Oxfordshire, including Marston Court Care Home: “Thank you very much for the hanging basket donated to Freddie’s grandfather’s Home, Marston Court. Although Freddie’s grandfather is bed bound, a number of the residents were thrilled to be a part of the presentation.”
Another pleased recipient said: “I had the most wonderful surprise last week when I received a beautifully planted hanging basket courtesy of your pupils, and the efforts of the children at Cokethorpe School are really to be celebrated. I would like to convey my thanks and congratulate the school on the holistic enterprise of this fantastic project.”
Children in Reception Class and Year 2 made pipe cleaner and beaded butterflies to decorate each basket. Year 3 were involved in designing the baskets, thinking carefully about each type of plant available and making decisions on plant colour, price and size. Year 5 then used these designs and counted the plants using tally charts to find the total quantities needed and produced a very accurate shopping list. Year 6 worked on a budgeting task to find the total cost of the plants, baskets and compost needed. Another group produced wonderful handwritten labels to the recipients of the hanging baskets. At the end of the week, the Year 4 children planted up the baskets whilst the Year 1 children watered them.
Year 1 children started working towards the first level in September, and were rewarded with a Growing Year Calendar full of growing tips and activities. To achieve Level Two they had to submit evidence of the skills learnt in their gardening sessions, and received a copy of How to Grow Practically Everything. For Level Three, they used their Everyday Materials science topic to explore the curriculum through the garden, and received the first of three plant and vegetable boxes this year. Level Four meant planning a cookery session using their own produce. Year 1 children read The Enormous Turnip and made their own turnip soup! They were thrilled to receive a super seed bundle box. Following the completion of Level Five, the School is due to receive £200 in National Garden Gift Vouchers and two plaques to display.
The Kitchen Garden in the School grounds has proved an invaluable resource for enabling the children to get involved in gardening projects. Following the success of the RHS Campaign, the Junior School launched a lunchtime Gardening Club, which over half of the School signed up for. The garden is accessible to all pupils in the School, however Year 1 have their own vegetable bed and visit once a week. They also get to enjoy the tasty rewards of their hard work!