New Willow Structures at Eastrop School

At Eastrop School in Highworth the new Headmaster is encouraging everyone to build on good practice of the past years and further develop the use of the school grounds for outdoor learning.  A plan has been put together using ideas from the staff, pupils and the governors.  Putting the plan into place will happen with small practical projects and training developed over time. The project is being co-ordinated by Woodland Learning in partnership with the school and supported by the PTA.

We have been very busy over the last few months.  Volunteers from the PTA came to help make a living willow caterpillar in the early years play area.  If was all made from willow cut from the old willow dome.  A whole day was spent planting and weaving the willow to make a 15m long tunnel with a head complete with antennae and eyes at one end.  The children go in the mouth and come out of the bottom.  One lad went through it and came out the other end shouting "I'm a poo!".   The inspiration came from Eric Carr's "The Very Hungry Caterpillar", one of the children's favourite books.

A few weeks later a team of volunteers from Nationwide, led by parent Amanda Moore, came to help with more jobs.  We finished the caterpillar by putting a thick layer of wood-chip around the base, ensuring it can be used year round and to suppress weeds. We also put wood-chip around the base of each of the fruit trees in the orchard to stop grass growing there and removing the need to mow too close to the trees as they have all been damaged by mowers.  Wood-chip also went around the base of the old willow dome.  There is tonnes left for the new storytelling and fire pit area.  As well as all the wheelbarrowing wood-chip the volunteers removed all the old shrubs from the playground beds in readiness for them being used for vegetable growing at a new lunch time club.  A raised bed was made for early years children to grow sunflowers and beans in - using recycled wood.

During the Easter holidays Woodland Learning went into school to weave a willow tipee for the Early Years pupils.  They will have a nice surprise to come back to.

Ruth Parsons