Dalry Primary School's LEAF journey

A blog post by Lesley Sim

Lesley Sim

Posted 16/08/2023

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After receiving their LEAF award, Lesley Sim, teacher at Dalry Primary School, one of our LEAF pilot schools, has shared why the school got involved and what they learned throughout the journey of learning outdoors.

Having received our Green Flag in 2022, our ECO Committee were inspired to develop our Outdoor Learning within the school grounds to benefit everyone in the school and provide areas to play, rest, relax, wild areas, planted areas and to just spend time with friends and chat. From this feedback, we were delighted to hear of the Learning about Forests (LEAF) project from Keep Scotland Beautiful. This amazing opportunity would be the perfect inspiration to develop and sustain getting outdoors in our curriculum and embed Learning for Sustainability throughout day to day learning and teaching.

We applied and got the amazing news that we would be a pilot school. It was so exciting and we chose our P6 pupils and our ECO Pupils (P2 – P7) to be the Forest Committee. Firstly we did our awareness survey where we found that not many pupils were aware of what trees and wildlife we had in our school grounds and wider community. The pupil's feedback was to act on this to improve our knowledge of nature, connect with nature and get outdoors more.

We are so proud to have achieved this being one of the first schools in Scotland! We have had the best journey through LEAF.

We would like to thank Keep Scotland Beautiful for their inspiring projects for the whole of Scotland. It is the best!

We then created our Action Plan and the pupils chose the theme: Forests & the Community.

Our main actions for the Primary 6 and our ECO Committee (P2-P7) are:

  • To go on 10 walks in our local community.
  • To get to know our local area and landscape including talking to people about the area in the past and their roles in the community.
  • To create maps of two local areas and compare and contrast them from January through to June, identifying local plants, trees and wildlife over the seasons.
  • To encourage others in the school and wider community to care for our environment.
  • To work with and involve parents and carers in our LEAF activities to get outdoors more and improve our Health & Wellbeing.
  • To appreciate our community and the amazing walks we have around us.
  • To hold a whole school assembly to share our LEAF journey, including film, photography and drawings with the whole school, parents and carers and our community volunteers.
  • To continue with this project year after year with P6 classes.

We had the most amazing experience through LEAF and the best thing was we were so lucky with the weather, our Friday LEAF Walks were amazing. Parents & carers came along every week, Ranger Pete (Community Windpower) came along every week, Dalry Community Gardens helped us on our walks and our NAC Provost came along to the walks. Throughout the walks we had a plan of learning each time:

  • To identify the trees and leaves.
  • To identify wild plants and flowers.
  • To learn about the history of our areas.
  • To support the Community Garden through planting fruits, vegetables & flowers.
  • To increase our skills and knowledge about biodiversity in our community and improve it over the years to come.
  • To connect and engage with nature.
  • To have amazing fun memories with classmates and teachers.
  • To feel healthier due to the impact of our LEAF walks.
  • Display our LEAF journey at the Community Windfarm Open Day.
  • To learn about the Biodiversity at Eglinton Park working with NAC Rangers.

This has all been amazing and we also managed to organise a BIG LITTER PICK with our neighbouring school which was amazing and we hope to develop more links with the school including ECO projects and improving our town and community.

We have had the most amazing experience through LEAF that has inspired us to improve our Outdoor Learning experiences for all.

The pupils feel that our next steps are:

  • To engage with nature.
  • To get outdoors again and go on different walks around our community.
  • To visit RSPB Lochwinnoch and learn about migratory birds in our community.
  • Biodiversity Scavenger Hunts.
  • Fairy Garden in our playground.
  • Health & Wellbeing seating and planting area in our playground.
  • Picnics in the WILD.
  • Develop more WILD areas in the playground.
  • Plant different types of flowers to encourage wildlife.
  • To continue and develop new links within our local and wider community.
  • Have even more FUN!

We would like to thank Keep Scotland Beautiful for their inspiring projects for the whole of Scotland. It is the best!

Visit LEAF | Keep Scotland Beautiful if you'd like to get involved with LEAF and learn more about using nature as a classroom.

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