Countryside Classroom - Connecting schools with food, farming and the natural environment

Growing Schools has been re-launched as Countryside Classroom, the largest ever partnership of organisations who are committed to helping children learn about food, farming and/or the natural environment.

It is the vision of Countryside Classroom that schools and teachers across the UK will embrace food, farming and the natural environment as essential components of a broad and balanced curriculum, incorporating them into day-to-day learning. As a result of this, every child will have the opportunity to learn about and experience these topics in diverse ways that are increasingly supported by experiences outside the classroom.

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The Growing Schools Garden Birmingham

The Design Philosophy

GS Garden Birmingham

The design foundations are based on the principle that learning in the broadest sense is the result of a complex blend of life modules.  These create experiences, which when viewed in isolation, display identifiable, distinctive and memorable traits, often forming the basis of our retained memory.  The high quality of these discrete learning ingredients is essential, and should inspire, stimulate and encourage thought, interaction, and expand learning across a broad educational and generation base. 

Almost as important as the quality of the individual modules experienced is the transition or journey between them.  Building a comprehensive and cohesive picture, the story lines should develop to create potential relationships between a boundless series of interlocking modules where the sum is greater than the individual parts. 

Key to the success of the design and all the design ingredients is the feeling that each experience, element or feature can offer rewards when viewed in isolation but that a cohesive story results when they are viewed in sequence.  

The diversity of modules results in the garden displaying an eclectic blend of habitats and environments; consequently the canvas on which the individual ideas of children from participating schools can exercise imaginations is similarly broad.  It is the intention that such facilities will allow children to express their personal relationships with the outdoor spaces in a creative, beautiful and original way and that the process of decorating the exhibit or viewing it will promote the full exploration and celebration of the environment. 

In addition to personal experiences the designed spaces create a vehicle to maximise social interaction, reinforcing the principle that the school and its grounds forms the hub of the social fabric.  With this in mind it is essential that opportunities be taken to participate fully with those outside the school in the creation and use of the garden and its parts.  This ensures that the garden becomes a place where the experiences of generations are shared, knowledge is absorbed, mutual respect grows and diversity in all of life is valued and celebrated.