They’re not exactly the most usual school pet, requiring considerable knowledge and skills, some specialist equipment, not to mention the careful handling – but the learning opportunities are as bountiful and delectable as the honey!
Wyberton Primary Academy near Boston shows us how it’s done, with a little help from Willoughby Road Allotment Association.
The School Bee Keepers
Year five – Mrs Hodgson’s class – is the school beekeeping class.
This allows all the children to have their turn at this very special experience as they grow through the school.
There’s also an after school bee club for those who just can’t get enough of it during curriculum hours!
Because the school has this very rich educational resource right on site, teaching and learning about bees is threaded throughout their curriculum and school life – from the biology of flowers to the sale of their very own honey at school fairs.
You can also buy Wyberton’s school honey at the local co-op – food miles don’t even come into it!
The bees have been on the site and in the curriculum for five years, and they have become part of the life of the school.
Can Kids Grow Food?
But that is not all: whereas school vegetable gardens can be notoriously short lived and over-reliant on a few volunteers, Wyberton’s school garden is becoming similarly embedded in school life.
The year two class have four vegetable beds. This small growing project has partnered with Willoughby Road allotment association, who have provided them with plug plants and seeds, and invited the class for visits to their allotment site.
It is a real asset to have Willoughby allotments nearby – they’re a particularly family- and community oriented allotment association, with accessible toilets on site, plenty of smaller plots available – because “everyone’s lives are different” – lots of support to those new to growing, and an enthusiasm to work with local schools.
“We want children to appreciate where their food comes from – from the ground, and not just a shelf in Asda. It’s gone down really well. The children go home and tell their parents about it!”Paul Collingwood, Willoughby Road Allotment Association
The children have contributed to Boston in Bloom, as well as grown their own veggies, and there’s also an after-school gardening club (soon to be re-started following a pause due to Covid restrictions).
The school’s successful growing space and pioneering beekeeping has been driven by the passion and dedication of teachers, with help from the local allotment association.
Wyberton is a shining example of how growing in school can be done – and done well in the long term – when it is integrated with the curriculum.
Has your school succeeded in embedding healthy food growing into the lives of school children? Please get in touch – we’d love to hear about it!
There’s also some excellent support available, including the Soil Association’s Food for Life programme. It’s currently £199+VAT for your first year – and you can expect a £3 social ROI on every pound spent; and by the way, Food for Life Schools are twice as likely to be rated Outstanding. Get in touch if you’d like a 10% discount code for the scheme.
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[…] WRAA does a lot to work with local scout groups, schools (including Wyberton, the bee-keeping school!) and nurseries, who are keen to visit and learn about food growing, and the allotment holders often […]