New Monument School’s outdoor courtyard gets a revamp with help from FreshStart

Children at New Monument Primary School in Maybury, Woking are enjoying a newly refurbished courtyard area with the help of Greenoak Community Focus and Barnabus Freshstart.

The open-air concreted courtyard is situated in the centre of the school building and was empty and neglected.  Headteacher Mandy McDowell had dreams of repurposing the space to extend the library and classrooms to enable students to enjoy quiet reading time and outdoor learning.

Eager to assist as part of its Covid Relief drive, GCF reached out to Freshstart, a charity who work with the community and Councils on local refurbishment projects to renovate or clear outdoor and indoor spaces for the community. Founder Mark Richmond was keen to be involved with the project.

Over the summer school holidays Mr Richmond worked with Ms McDowell and Helen Orton, the School Business Manager to makeover the courtyard.  In just over 3 weeks Mr Richmond had built a sensory landscape, with raised beds for herbs, fruit trees, grasses and a living wall. Wildlife was encouraged with the introduction of insect friendly, flowering and strong scented plants, birdboxes and feeders on walls. The well established pond with flowering plants and fish was made secure so children could enjoy a water feature. And trailing plants were grown up and over the space create dappled light and shade for reading.

The successful project now offers students a safe, rich outdoor learning and sensory environment, extending classroom space, and allows them a new place to relax, play, socialise, be active, was well as nurture and engage with nature.

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