This year we enter the third year of our Enrichment Grant with St Mark’s Primary School in Whitehawk. This fund was launched in 2017 in response to the devastating cuts to school budgets affecting all aspects of school finances, including provision for extra-curricular activities. East Brighton Trust decided to step in and provide local primary schools with support to pay for some of the extra-curricular activity that would otherwise have been cut, activities which make such a huge difference to pupils’ educational experience and consequently to their lives.
St Mark’s decided to use their grant to improve the school’s outdoor spaces – adding an outdoor gym with miniature gym equipment in the first year and to create a secret garden library in the second year. With the third instalment they are hoping to focus further on literacy and we look forward to hearing about that when the time comes.
Directors have also agreed unanimously this year to extend the grant of £10,000 per year for a further three years.
Below is an update from St Mark’s, telling us about the outdoor spaces and the impact they have had so far. We’re absolutely thrilled to have been able to support these improvements to the school site and to see the funds being spent on such wonderful additions to the school.
"Prior to the funding from East Brighton Trust, our outdoor space was stark and lacking in opportunities for children to explore.
Through the project, we have been able to provide an outdoor space that enriches the children’s lives and stimulates their learning experiences. The equipment purchased has given us an outdoor learning environment that will, over time, increase our children’s self belief, confidence, learning capacity, enthusiasm, communication and problem solving skills and emotional well being.
As the equipment is available over lunchtime and playtimes, too, this had promoted positive behaviour and increased children’s physical activity.
The majority of our families do not have gardens or access to safe outside spaces, so the space has provided opportunities for the children to test their own abilities in a real life context.
The Secret Garden Library and Garden project was an exciting opportunity, drawing match funding from East Brighton Trust and Roedean School. The children have responded positively and when asked what they liked about the library, they said:
- It’s very comfy
- It’s quiet and calm
- There is a huge variety of books
- It’s relaxing
- It’s a comfortable place to sit and read
The garden space has provided the children with a chance to spend time in a quiet, calm outdoor environment, which offers sensory experiences with the plants and a forest school area which encourages the children to learn and explore the wildlife. The space is a haven of calm, where the children can feel removed from worries.
We have designed the garden to encourage wildlife to visit e.g. bumblebees, and the children use the space to support their learning topics.
Again, it is open at playtime and lunchtime to allow nurture and nature groups to take place, thus impacting positively on the children’s behaviour and social interaction."