In 2018, the doors of the brand-new building of St James CofE Primary School opened, and the outdoor spaces were waiting to be developed for the benefit of the students. The Friends of St James have been dedicatedly working on the improvement of the outdoor spaces for the past few years to offer an exciting environment for outdoor education and enjoyable playtime. During 2021-2022, a gardening area with elevated beds, a willow dome, and a forest school area have been established.
The St James C of E primary School council and The Friends of St James have joined forces to plan and execute a pupil-approved fundraising project. The group reached a consensus that a trim trail style adventure playground would be a much needed addition to the current provision, encouraging good quality active playtimes and also being an additional resource for PE lessons. The school council, composed of student representatives from each class, chose the final plan design from among three alternate options.
Claire Mortimer is a Parent and member of The Friends of St James who has played a vital part in arranging the fundraising for this project said:
“The Covid-19 pandemic highlighted the importance of outside play and is where this project originated. Being a new school, we started with a blank canvas which FOSJ have been working hard on to develop into a rich resource for outdoor learning and play. Our aim and our purpose is to enhance the facilities and experiences at St James Primary School, for children of today and of the future.
Outdoor play is beyond just the physical activity it provides. It helps children socialise, engage in imaginative play, understand their bodies as well as enjoy the freedom and fresh air away from the classroom. We are passionate about delivering this project for August 2023.”
A target of £20K worth of funding has been set by the group which will cover the cost of the equipment and its installation. The generous Friends of St James have already donated a considerable amount to the funding pot to kick off the campaign and the local community and businesses have also stepped into provide support so that St James reaches their target. On behalf of the School Council, representing the pupils of St James, the school expresses their appreciation to the FOSJ and to everyone who has supported recent fundraising events. A JustGiving page has been set up, should anyone wish to donate directly to this fantastic project: https://www.justgiving.com/campaign/stjamesplay.
The school intends to have the play equipment installed in summer 2023, providing the current eldest class with two years of use.
Students from the School council explained how:
“We voted on which design we liked and we could have another school fair to raise money.” And how “It’s very exciting and the school council will help to get lots of money.”
Associate Principal Geraldine Carter said:
“I am so proud of the advocacy the children have demonstrated in developing and leading this project, one which is very important to them and families of St James. Teaching our pupils to use their voice in a positive way and for impactful change is an important aspect of our learning at the school, whilst also allowing the children to live our school values. We are extremely grateful for the work and support of The Friends of St James and everyone locally who has contributed towards these efforts, to date.”