Highways providers transform ‘unsafe’ Northampton primary school garden into vibrant learning space

Pupils at the Stimpson Avenue Academy in Northampton have returned from their half-term holidays to a transformed garden space, courtesy of Kier, West Northamptonshire Council’s highways providers.

The school first approached Kier regarding safety concerns over the space – such as its cordoned-off, disused pond and overgrown vegetation – seeking help to return the space to its former glory.

Kier was joined by Bridge and Highways Maintenance Ltd and five of its fellow supply chain partners – which spent three months designing the space and receiving donations to bring their vision to life.

Over 30 volunteers rolled up their sleeves to support the cause, who spent three days during the half term renovating the space, with some parents donating plants and seeds to support the cause.

Luci Clapton, Head of School at Stimpson Avenue Academy, said: “We are absolutely thrilled with the completion of our new garden. The response from our parents, and most importantly our pupils, has been fantastic.

“What had become a disused and unloved area has been transformed into a wonderful outside space, which will be used at playtimes and lunchtimes as a quiet space for the children. It will also be used for community events such as our sports day and summer fete.”

The garden is now equipped with a sensory footpath; a new pergola; recycled tyre planters painted as ladybirds and bumble bees; a wildflower garden space; raised planters; a compost area; bug hotels; and a log seating, campfire area.

Luci continued: “The new garden will form part of our curriculum, as we are launching a new Forest School this year, which offers our pupils the unique opportunity to learn about nature and try a range of outdoor activities including den building and bug hunting.

“Our Eco-Committee and the Junior Leadership Team are also excited to be leading some projects in the new garden, including planting and growing vegetables.”

The works also included filling in an old disused pond which was unsafe for the children to play near but too costly to fill in.  The highways team filled in the hole and shredded the vegetation that had been cut down and filled the top of the pond with it over a membrane – making their own woodchip, before building a wigwam to place over the top.

Parents were invited to see the final result alongside a class of pupils, and were joined by Cllr Phil Larratt Cabinet Member for environment, transport, highways and waste, and John Coombes, general manager for Kier Highways.

John Coombes said: “After three months of hard work and planning, the school’s garden space has been transformed from a tired, overgrown safety concern to a fun, safe educational space for the children of Stimpson Avenue Academy to play and learn.

We are proud to be able to leave a legacy at the school, with the garden now used to teach the children about the importance of sustainability and nature as part of this project. We’re thankful to Bridges and Highways Maintenance ltd and our partners for their role in bringing this project to life.”

Cllr Phil Larratt added: “ We are delighted to be working with Kier Highways to deliver the Highways contract across West Northamptonshire. The fantastic work they’ve carried out at Stimpson Academy is just one example that demonstrates their commitment to making a real difference across the local community. It was great to see their hard work first hand, and I hope pupils enjoy this space for years to come.”

Also generously donating materials and their time to complete the makeover were, PGR, NC & JC Construction, EM Pell & Partners Ltd, Hanson, R&C Williams, Swarco and Wickes.


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