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Newark Academy staff and students unearth conservation area not used for at least ten years



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Green-fingered school staff and students have unearthed a conservation area which hadn’t been used for at least ten years.

Science technicians at Newark Academy saw there was a need for a space in school where children could explore ecology and science studies without being in the confines of four walls.

Technician Chris Jowett said he was given a heads-up that there was an outdoor space ­— a couple of ponds with potential — but that it would need a lot of work.

BACK from left to right: Science technicians Helen Aldridge and Chris Jowett with students Thomas Inger, 11, Aidan O'Donoghue, 17, Frankie Ward, 17, Tola Olusi-Mason, 16, Lucie-Lou Self, 17, Jack Woolley, 11, and, front, Paige Fraser, 12, Lucie Fraser, 12, and Tayla Keetley-Young, 11, at Newark Academy's conservation area.
BACK from left to right: Science technicians Helen Aldridge and Chris Jowett with students Thomas Inger, 11, Aidan O'Donoghue, 17, Frankie Ward, 17, Tola Olusi-Mason, 16, Lucie-Lou Self, 17, Jack Woolley, 11, and, front, Paige Fraser, 12, Lucie Fraser, 12, and Tayla Keetley-Young, 11, at Newark Academy's conservation area.

“It was thoroughly overgrown and took a bit of hacking with the shears to get through, but with hard work on some hot days, we got there,” said Mr Jowett.

“It was getting it into a condition for students to come and assist as it was not a safe place and, with the tools required, I did not want to do that risk assessment.

“We are at the stage now where children can help with the upkeep of the area. A handful are helping at the moment and the eco club has been down a couple of times.”

Mr Jowett said as part of science week, children planted more than 200 trees in the area.

“In two or three years it will be quite a substantial row of plants,” he said. “The year sevens — by the time they take their GCSEs, they will walk past the plants that they have planted.

“Some of the children have put rings around their trees so they know which ones are theirs.”

Mr Jowett said a benefit of the outdoor space was pupils being able to take some time out in nature.

He said: “It is for the staff as well, some will take a cup of coffee out if they are off duty.

“Now we’ve broken the back of it, phase two is about getting more students involved — and hoping to be able to get primary schools in the area involved as well. We are within easy walking distance of a few and could do activities like mini beast trails and planting.

“There’s also a natural history GCSE coming in in the next few years so we will be ahead of the game when that comes about, already having our own space for that kind of work.

“The transformation is incredible as well as the wildlife, which we hope to attract more of now.”

Newark Academy head Chris Fisher has even suggested some steps be added in and around the area, like an amphitheatre, to accommodate outdoor performances.



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