The OVO Foundation Nature Prize


Ballyholme Primary School, Bangor, Northern Ireland

New seeds and tools create thriving school garden

Ballyholme Primary School in Northern Ireland have been steadily trying to increase green spaces around the school for the last 10 years. The current focus of their climate action plan is to improve biodiversity and outdoor learning, which their £200 OVO Foundation Nature Prize win has helped them to do.

Students and staff won the prize with their ideas to develop the school garden, plant pollinator friendly wildflower seeds and seasonal vegetables, and buy age-appropriate gardening equipment. The prize money has been essential in getting students to the next stage of their outdoor learning journey; although the school has a small green space, they lacked the funding to buy seeds and trellises, or equipment to make the most of it.

New gardening equipment means the school can comply with health and safety rules, and helps children who are less keen on getting their hands muddy or touching worms to be more engaged and involved.

“Without this, we wouldn’t have purchased any of the planting equipment for the kids. And then without the planting equipment, we would still been on that border where we can only do so much because we can’t have them around certain new tools and certain objects without covering their hands.”

-Nicola Crockford, Eco-coordinator

Ballyholme are now using the garden space during curriculum time, with activities built around exploring the garden and its biodiversity, such as P4’s minibeast topic and early years’ garden-based sensory scavenger hunts. Staff ensure that all year groups have a chance to use the garden, with KS2 students taking on responsibility for planting and looking after the seeds, and KS1 students using the garden for exploratory learning. Over the next school year, students will learn about seasonal food growing and see the entire food growing cycle, from seed to plate.

Students’ have been overwhelmingly positive about being outdoors and getting involved in gardening – teachers were surprised just how enthusiastic students were to get outside. The school is now having to run two gardening clubs, as demand has been so high. Their advice to other schools looking to start their outdoor learning journey is to trust that student enthusiasm is there, and that providing opportunities to engage with nature, however small you start, will be really rewarding.

“Now that we’re involving the kids that bit more we can see that, actually, they’re getting to develop an understanding of why this is important and how we do it, and developing a bit more of a respect for nature.”

-Nicola Crockford, Eco-coordinator

Children digging in a garden
Lets Go Zero logo for schools working to become zero carbon by 2030.

Contact us

Email: letsgozero@ashden.org
Twitter: @LetsGo_Zero

Join the Campaign

OVO Foundation Nature Prize

Schools can win the cash to implement a community nature project. Schools from disadvantaged areas with high pupil premium are particularly encouraged to apply.

Applications opening 30 Novmeber 2023.

Find out more

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