Children at Shute Primary School saw their new outdoor stage area finished this week. The landscaping involves tiered seating down to an existing stage area surrounded by a colourful array of trees, shrubs and ground cover. The School and community alike will be able to use the area as an outdoor performance space for theatre, music and as an open air play area and classroom. The seating area is large enough to fit the entire School community.
The stage area forms the major part of the £25,000 grounds project which the School has been fundraising for over the past two years. Tesco Bags of Help Scheme donated almost half of the money raised with other significant donations coming from East Devon AONB and The Northbrook Trust. Other local businesses including Bradfords, Otter Nurseries and Wains Transport supported by donations in kind or financially as well as individuals. “It has been a tremendous community effort and we are absolutely delighted with the result,” said Clare Rinaldi, Head Teacher at Shute. “This will make a significant difference to the School and locality and provide an amazing area for recreation and learning.”
The design and landscaping have been sourced locally after a competitive tendering process. Tony Benger's garden designer, Penny Pritchard, drew up the plans for the new seating and planting area, whilst Tony Benger's Landscaping Team carried out the construction work under the charge of Oli Hemson with full collaboration of the School. "It is particularly nice for us to have won this project, not only because the School is so local to us (some of us have sent our kids there!) but also because one of our guys helped to build the stage itself many years ago," said Oli Hemson.
The finishing of this phase of the School grounds project also coincides with the School’s nomination for the prestigious local East Devon AONB Acland Award. The Acland Award is named in recognition of Brigadier Acland who was influential in the designation of East Devon AONB in the early 1960’s. It is awarded to an organization, business or individual that has demonstrated outstanding examples of excellence connected to the AONB. Over the past two years Shute School has worked hard to both improve its grounds to encourage children to engage with the outdoors as well as to diversify and improve the surroundings for wildlife. Gardening as part of the curriculum as well as a Garden Club are flourishing as well as many outdoor activities run by staff and local volunteers in nearby Shute Woods and the surrounding area. “We wish to engage children fully in understanding the world around them, how food is grown, and the fundamental importance and vulnerability of the natural world,” said Mrs Rinaldi.