Last week we held a (late) outdoor classroom day planting at St Mark and All Saints school in Godalming. The two week delay did not dampen the enthusiasm for spending a lesson outside doing something wonderful for the environment.

Outdoor Classroom Day 2021 coincided with COP26, and so focused on the importance of time outdoors to the future of the planet. Research shows that children who spend time outdoors learn to love nature and grow up wanting to protect it. Sadly today’s children are spending more time indoors than ever before. This risks them becoming disconnected from the natural world.

Ensuring children’s regular access the outdoors and nature is essential for their physical and mental wellbeing. Most of us can agree, our happiest memories of being children are the times that were spent outside. It’s also essential for the health of the environment.

As Sir David Attenborough eloquently puts it

“No one will protect what they don’t care about; and no one will care about what they have never experienced.”

We started off chatting about all the amazing things we know about trees and particularly the 700 year old oak tree on the other side of the road. We talked about all the critters that make trees their habitat. We discussed the lovely relationship we have with trees – we breath in what they breath out and vice versa.  One 7 year old even raised his hand to mention “photosynthesis”!

The real work started when the children got busy planting their new hedge. We planted wild cherry and hornbeam into a hedge hugging the fence in their early years’ playground.

The children worked in pairs to get the 50 saplings into the ground. They were excited that there were so many worms in the earth which shows what healthy soil it is.

The school were eager for more native evergreens so the Godalming Town Council grant provided them with two Scots Pine which have ambitions to be large enough for fairy lights for the festive season.

St Mark and All Saints school take their outdoor learning seriously. Mr Mac, school caretaker, holds gardening club and forest school sessions. They even have a small holding on the school grounds. All you need to do is look at their happy, healthy faces to see the difference it makes to the children.

With thanks to St Mark and All Saints school for their continued enthusiasm to work with Roots for the Future and many thanks to Godalming Town Council for their support.