Outdoor Learning

Our Science Garden

At St Johns we believe that it is important for all children to know where their food comes from and how to grow their own. We also want them to experience the natural world within the grounds of their school and to learn about the importance of providing a habitat for wild creatures. In order to provide our children with access to these invaluable learning experiences, we created our science garden in March 2018.

In recent years, each year group has planted their own crops to harvest and used them to cook with. We have also had lots of fun selling our produce in the playground to raise funds for the garden. Our gardening club, who earned a level 4 Royal Horticultural Society Award for using their produce to cook a meal for their parents, have done an excellent job maintaining the garden and caring for the plants and wildlife found there. 

We would like to thank each and every parent who has donated to the garden and helped to make all this amazing hands on learning possible. If you would like to make a donation to the garden, then please do so using your child's School Gateway account. 

Autumn Year 6 made jam with our strawberries and sold it at their High Tea to raise money for their school journey. They also made delicious tomato soup with our bumper crop of tomatoes! Gardening club used the left over unripe tomatoes to make green tomato chutney. The school got involved in planting, with Year 5 planting onions and shallots, Year 4 sowing broad bean seeds, Year 3 growing lettuce and spinach, Year 2 planting garlic, and Year 1 planting peas, acorns and sweet chestnuts. We also held a whole school Scarecrow competition to raise money for our garden!

Winter Gardening club braved the elements, creating a fantastic worm farm! They also made sure that all our crops were kept sheltered and warm during the cold months. Year 3 made bird feeders to make sure that our feathered garden friends had something to eat.

Spring Each year group planted early potatoes as part of our Great St Johns Potato Growing Competition. Year 4 harvested their broad beans to make delicious hummus and Year 1 had lots of fun trying their delicious beans! Year 3 planted pepper seeds and kept them warm inside the greenhouse. The whole school took part in a British Wildlife Themed science week, during which Year 2 created a fantastic insect hotel, Year 4 made us three amazing school ponds and we set up our very own bird box with bird cam as part of the ‘See Nature’ bird box project. http://www.seenature.org.uk/school-zone/school-streams/ Our hard work earned us an RSPB Wild Challenge Gold Award. https://www.rspb.org.uk/fun-and-learning/for-families/family-wild-challenge/

Summer There was so much to harvest and cook at the end of the year that it kept us very busy. Year 2 pulled up their garlic to sell and Year 4 did the same with their lettuce. Year 5 used their onions as a pizza topping and made pizzas using our wood fire pizza oven! Year 1 made carrot soup with their crop and Year 3 picked their peppers to cook with. Their acorn and sweet chestnut planting in Autumn have resulted in four new tiny trees to add to the garden! Everyone was very excited to discover that our ponds now have a number of resident frogs and we loved watching the butterflies and bees gathering pollen from the wildflowers that we planted on top of our insect hotel.

Creating the Garden

"The garden is a beautiful place in our school that was transformed from a maintenance area into a place where anyone can go to water, plant and describe the growing plants. Ideas are taken in and used to make the garden better. There are competitions we do in the science garden going from Foundation Stage through to Year 6. such as the ‘Silver Trowel Award.’  Next year we are hoping to make the strawberries into jam for the Year 6 cream tea."
Year 5 Pupil

"The transformation of a neglected corner of our school into our new science garden has been very exciting for the pupils. They all feel a sense of ownership and are delighted to get in there, get their hands dirty, learn about plants and grow their own vegetables. It is a very special space, a little green oasis in this vibrant school."
Parent of Year 1 and Year 4 pupils.

"The science garden is an invaluable addition to the children’s learning at St. Johns. It gives the children the opportunity to take part in hands on, practical science lessons in a purposeful, outdoor environment. The children ask to visit and actively want to dedicate their free time to gardening. They have also undertaken independent research outside of school and brought it back into school to share their ideas. The garden has a positive effect on their behaviour and staff have noticed that they become calmer and more engaged when in it. It is allowing them to develop an awareness of how to care for living things."
Year 3 teachers.

Transforming a corner of concrete car park into a beautiful garden was no small task. Thankfully, we had the help of Fern Construction Ltd, whose team worked extremely hard to finish the garden to an amazing standard. Our Year 6's lent a hand by creating plans of the garden with suggestions of what they would like it to contain. The school also benefited enormously from a grant awarded by Wholekids Foundation School Garden Grants Programme and School Food Matters, and a generous contribution from former St Johns Head teacher Pauline Morozgalska. With their help, the garden was completed in May 2018.


Growing in the Garden

In early June, we were able to plant our first crops in the completed garden. Each year group planted radishes and took part in a whole school competition to see whose were the best! The Winners were Year 3, who received the coveted Silver Trowel Award for their efforts. We sold the radishes at our Summer fair and raised £30 towards the garden. Next year, every class will plant and grow crops in their very own planter, and use them to cook with. 


Gardening Club - Making Chutney

The gardening club, led by Mrs Richards, successfully grew tomato plants over the  summer months. These plants produced many tomatoes, many of which were eaten in July. Upon our return to school in September there were many more ripe ones.  Along with the red ones, there remained many green tomatoes. Thus the new autumn gardening club (KS2) decided to make green tomato chutney.

The whole club spent a lunchtime chopping the different vegetables and fruits; 4lbs of green tomatoes, about 8 onions, 4lbs of cooking apples,

1 large courgette, (all homegrown)

And then added vinegar, brown sugar, raisins and spices.

We set about cooking it for 3-4 hrs and soon the vinegar had permeated every room in the building! However, as the chutney bubbled and boiled, the colour changed, it thickened and eventually resembled a brown sticky sauce. After school, the children learnt about sterilising jars and filing them, omitting any air bubbles. The end result - a dozen or so jars of chutney, all prepared and labelled by the children. Only downside is waiting 3 months to taste it: a cheese, cracker and chutney tasting session is planned for the New Year.


Award Winning Gardeners!

This year, our Gardening club received a level four award from the Royal Horticultural Society, for their hard work growing vegetables which they then used to cook their parents a meal. We have some very green fingered pupils at St. Johns!


Global Gardening

Our Year 4 children took gardening to the next level this year when they took part in a sponsored fun run to raise money for the Rainforest Trust. They raised an amazing £1,346.76, which with matched donations from UK and US donors, became an  incredible £4,948! This is enough to buy and preserve 3,500 acres of rainforest in the Rungan River Peat Swamp in Borneo, which is home to 4% of the worlds Critically Endangered Bornean Orangutans. The children have saved an area of rainforest the equivalent size of about 2,000 football pitches!