VIDEO: Muddy patch turned into sensory garden

A MUDDY patch of playground has been turned into a sensory garden for Shoreham pupils.

Reception children at Buckingham Park Primary School can now build dens, sit and chat, dig and play in the new garden.

Head Louise Swann and teacher Helen Hunt, centre, with Adur East Lions and pupils in the garden S11250H14

Head Louise Swann and teacher Helen Hunt, centre, with Adur East Lions and pupils in the garden S11250H14

The school, in Buckingham Road, operates a free-flow system for the younger children, where they spend as much time outdoors as they do in the classroom.

The new garden was designed by the teachers, with the help of KP Garden Designs, to get the best out of the small area for the children.

Helen Hunt, early years foundation stage leader, said: “Before, the top part of the playground was just grass with parts that were really muddy and we could not use it properly.

“We have a lot of children with additional needs, where English is their second language or they have difficulties at home for example, and that was part of the thinking behind it, to make a nice space for them.”

There is a play area where the children can create dens, an arbour where they can chat, read and be a bit more reflective, and an area where they can dig.

Separate flower beds have been created, interlinked by paths, and each one represents a different sense, such as a sand area and herb garden.

“The bit they love the most is the willow tunnel,” added Mrs Hunt, explaining that the children enjoyed running through it and being able to feel the leaves as they passed.

The project was funded with the help of a £2,100 donation from Adur East Lions Club and members visited the school on Monday to see how the children use the garden.

Head teacher Louise Swann said the Lions paid a large portion towards the project and the school match-funded to create the area for reception children.

Richard Behling, from Adur East Lions Club, said: “The sensory garden improves the outdoor learning and play experiences of the children.

“Some prefer noisy, active and energetic play, while others enjoy quiet and reflective experiences.

“Varied and inspiring outdoor play experiences are a critical part of the curriculum. Their time spent outside is used as an educational tool to enhance the learning that takes place inside.”

He said the sensory garden enriched the play and learning of all the children, especially those with additional needs, who may need multi-sensory experiences to help to integrate their senses.

As a fully-inclusive school, it needed excellent outdoor provision to provide opportunities for all kinds of children and varied needs.

Mr Behling added: “In addition, those pupils with challenging family lives enjoy the opportunity to play within a peaceful and nurturing space.

“Free flow is an essential part of the early years foundation stage curriculum, yet the school is not funded by the local authority to provide the necessary equipment - schools are expected to fund their own. The money was not within the school’s budget, so Buckingham Park Primary School looked to Adur East Lions for funding.”

Mrs Swann pointed out the project was totally separate to the £1m extension works, which will add three classrooms and a new library.