School grounds

Group enjoying storytelling in the school grounds

About school grounds

The way school grounds are developed, used and managed can have a significant impact on pupils’ attitudes and behaviour towards school, each other, the wider environment and society. Pupils can spend as much as 25% of their time in your school grounds – that’s more than one day a week, so it’s important that experiences they have there are the best and as positive as they can be. The appearance of school grounds can have a dramatic effect on how a child feels about the place and on how they interact with their environment, other children and adults.

Improving your grounds

Involving pupils in the design and creation of new features in your school grounds can help to develop new skills and new ways of thinking, as well as instilling a new sense of respect for students’ surroundings.

Ideas for improving your grounds include:

  • Creating a recycling centre, a composting area or a raised bed that children can plant with their own fruit and vegetable plants
  • Simple changes such as making a mosaic or painting plant pots can be done on a shoestring budget
  • Getting the most out of the school grounds by having an area with seating or an activity zone that can be used to teach pupils either in small groups or in full classes

The schools grounds topic

By studying and working on the school grounds topic your school can:

  • Create a richer teaching environment and enable pupils to identify links between topics
  • Create a sense of responsibility and an awareness of nature within the school grounds
  • Increase contact between the school and the local community enabling the school to take a greater part in local decisions
  • Encourage pupils to value the school grounds as a place to play, explore and make a connection with the natural world
  • Encourage pupils to explore and understand biodiversity in their locality and to appreciate the need for environmental care on a global level

Linking school grounds into the curriculum

Eco-Schools England have developed a series of lesson ideas designed to inspire you on your journey to embedding sustainable issues into everyday lessons. We have primary and secondary ideas that will encourage your students to solve real-life problems and present their solutions in a variety of ways.

Many of these lesson ideas cover the school grounds topic as well as link into a range of curriculum areas. Visit our Eco-Schools Free Resources section or the Love Where You Live Resources section to find out more and to download these lesson ideas.

The Pod - EDF Energy's Programme for Greener Schools

The Pod, EDF Energy’s Programme for Greener Schools, can help you with the school grounds topic, via their biodiversity activities. The Pod is an interactive online resource for Key Stages 1, 2 and 3 teachers and pupils. It aims to make real and measurable improvement to the resource use and carbon output of schools across the country.

All activities on the Pod are accredited by Eco-Schools England and specifically designed to help schools progress through the Eco-Schools programme and achieve Bronze, Silver and Green Flag awards. Both teachers and pupils can use the Pod and joining is completely free. Visit www.jointhepod.org to register.

The Pod’s biodiversity activities can help your school grounds topic

The Pod offers a range of practical biodiversity activities, designed to be run either by a teacher, class or Eco-Committee. The Pod’s activities typically come with a biodiversity information pack,  lesson plans, take-it-home sheet, interactive game, assembly and a survey to help you track and measure the impact of the activity. 

The Pod is expanding its resources all the time, but the following is a list of the biodiversity activities currently available for Key Stage 2 and 3. 

  • Bug Hotel: create a bug hotel in your school grounds and watch who comes to stay
  • Will the Worm: it's time to build a compost bin for Will and his friends. Learn what needs to go into it and see the results!

The surveys that accompany each of the activities can be used to support your Environmental Review and your monitoring and evaluation efforts; and the activity’s associated lesson plans will help you link biodiversity into the curriculum. Browse the Pod's biodiversity resources. 

Other resources and sources of information

If you are interested in growing your own vegetables, herbs or fruits in your school grounds, Eco-Schools have created a series of downloadable how-to guides, including how to garden in a limited space, how to garden organically and a whole range of guides to growing fruits and vegetables.

The Royal Horticultural Society (RHS) also offer resources, activities and training via their Campaign for School Gardening.  Our useful links page provides details of other organisations that can help you improve your school grounds.

See how other Eco-Schools have successfully addressed the school grounds topic

  • Oakley developed their school grounds to provide a meaningful, relevant and exciting outdoor environment to practice and develop real life communication skills, practical hands on learning opportunities and a personalised understanding of the environment and sustainability issues
  • St Cuthbert’s develop a wildlife garden and Mini Beast Motel to create a wild space within their urban setting. It's now used as a safe area for their children to observe wildlife and has enhanced different areas of the curriculum
  • Richmond Hill Special School cover five Eco-Schools topics by developing a sustainable gardening area. They show how much can be achieved, for both pupils and the school, by working with others and growing their own
  • Or visit our case studies section for even more ideas and inspiration from other Eco-Schools

National Awareness Days and Campaigns 

There are many National Awareness Days, events and campaigns that tie in with the Eco-Schools school grounds topic. Why not use them as a way to introduce school grounds issues or projects to your classes and get your students really interested and involved with them. Click on the titles to find out more.

You can get all the environmental awareness dates for the coming academic year, as well as dates for Eco-Schools and Pod events by downloading the 2013-2014 Year Planner.