Tad pupils enjoy great outdoors

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Tadcaster Primary Academy pupils are enjoying outdoor learning and state-of-the-art play equipment thanks to efforts of parents, businesses – and a resourceful school business manager.

Ruth Griffin started her job with the school, which joined Ebor Academy Trust last autumn, in September 2015.

As a parent of two former pupils Ruth was keen to get involved in a “Pond and Beyond” project to renovate an outside area.

Tadcaster’s Early Years Foundation Stage wanted an outdoor learning space where children could look safely into a pond and also enjoy natural planting where they could see bees, butterflies and other insects.

Ruth came up with a plan comprising a seating area, pond, flower beds, path, hedging and a willow structure – and then put in a plea for help from parents and carers. The response was impressive.

“We soon had a list of helpers including a farmer and a joiner, a pond expert and many who were willing to provide machinery, skills and labour,” said Ruth.

Ruth then obtained donations from Northern Gas and bakery chain Greggs and the resulting £4,000 covered costs, including a pond cover and seating.

Tadcaster Primary Academy headteacher Donna Bedford said: “Our school community have done us proud. The children love the outside space and being so close to nature enriches their learning. And they have so much fun! I’d like to thank Ruth for her enthusiasm.”

In spring last year, with funding left over, plus dedicated sports funding and further grants from elsewhere, a plan was put together to replace an old wooden outdoor play area.

“On holiday I’d seen outdoor gym equipment and I knew if I could get the money together we could emulate the sort of equipment seen in an adult gym here in Tadcaster,” said Ruth.

Completing this second project then inspired yet further thinking and National Lottery funding was gained for a metal climbing frame with monkey bars and rope bridge which was completed before Christmas.

“The frame helps with co-ordination, balance, fitness, courage and also teamwork – encouragement by others,” said Ruth.

“The children get an enormous sense of achievement at the end if they manage to do it.

“The projects have been fun to do. The children and the parents love the outdoor areas now and they are a credit to the school.”