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Forest classroom for Plymouth priority school

Forest school takes root at Manchester's Plymouth Grove Primary

Posted by Stephanie Broad | May 27, 2016 | Bricks & mortar

Morgan Sindall is working with students from Manchester Building College to provide Plymouth Grove Primary School pupils with a forest classroom to facilitate outdoor learning.

The forest classroom concept originated in the 1980s and has its roots in Scandinavia. The premise is to provide pupils with an interesting and hands-on interaction with the natural environment, teaching them about the role of trees in nature, the complex ecosystem supported by a wilderness and recognition of specific plants and animals.

Students from Manchester School of Building studying bricklaying, joinery, painting and ground work are carrying out the work, which began on 16 May and is expected to take two weeks to complete.

The site team is providing the students with guidance and support, as well as ensuring the labour is carried out safely. Morgan Sindall is managing the work as a separate charitable project, running alongside its contract to build the new Plymouth Grove School. Construction of the school is scheduled to complete by the end of the summer, ready for the new term in September. 

Plymouth Grove Primary School is one of 12 schools to be delivered by Morgan Sindall under the Education Funding Agency’s (EFA) Priority School Building Programme (PSBP) which aims to provide purpose-built school buildings to those in most need of urgent repair.

Tree cut offs, tyres and playground bark have been donated by local wood waste firm Tree Station. Additional materials including topsoil, paint, cable ties, screws and use of an excavator have all been generously provided free of charge by subcontractors involved in the Plymouth Grove Primary School build.  

In addition to the forest school, Morgan Sindall is also improving the school’s play area. The existing play area is being expanded, with artificial grass and bark chippings being laid. Recycled materials including electrical drums, drainage pipes and pallets will be used to create tables, tunnels and fencing to create a sustainable area, with the aim of encouraging active play.  

The finished forest school and play zone will be used by Plymouth Grove’s 455 pupils, but will also be made available to other schools and local community groups. 

Headteacher, Michael Cooke, said: “Playing outdoors used to be the norm, but in today’s society our children are interacting less and less with the natural world. By providing a forest school and safe outdoor play zone, we’re encouraging our pupils to take an interest in their environment and engage in physical activity.

“As a result, our children will be more creative in the classroom, more mindful of their surroundings and learn to see exercise as a fun pursuit from an early age.”   

Through the national PSBP programme, 261 schools will be rebuilt or have their condition needs met by the EFA, the first of which was completed in 2014. All schools within the programme will be delivered by the end of 2017. 

This project forms part of the North West batch, awarded to Morgan Sindall in August 2014, which includes a total of 12 schools in Blackpool, Chester, Wigan, Manchester, Stockport and Merseyside. 

Across the programme, each new school will be built on land within the existing school boundary allowing the school to remain operational during construction of the new buildings. Once complete, the school will move into the new teaching facilities while the old buildings are demolished and external landscaping works are completed. 

Designers have used Level Two Building Information Modelling (BIM) practices to design the school. This allows the different disciplines involved in design and construction, to share information leading to greater efficiencies.

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