A school’s commitment to outdoor learning – and the impact it has had on students’ wellbeing – has been honoured by a Royal visit.
Students at Castle Manor Academy in Haverhill welcomed HRH The Earl of Wessex who was keen to visit the school after hearing about the outdoor learning opportunities offered to students and the school’s work with The Duke of Edinburgh’s Award (DofE).
HRH The Earl of Wessex was given a tour of the school’s outdoor learning space – including their new Silkie chicken raising area and the school orchard and fruit garden.
Reflecting on the day, Castle Manor Academy headteacher, Vanessa Whitcombe said: “We were very excited to welcome HRH The Earl of Wessex and share with him all of the excellent things that we do at the school.
“We are delighted to have been chosen to have such a prestigious visitor come and see our school and our community.”
Community leaders were also invited into the school for a special reception, which included refreshments prepared by Castle Manor’s catering team while head boy and girl, Josh Travies and Melody Bray, spoke to His Royal Highness about the school’s ethos.
Becky Baldwin, the school’s coordinator of outdoor learning, said: “Through The Duke of Edinburgh’s Award, and the community support, we have found that students gain so much from being involved in the programme.
“We are able to teach our students about the importance of knowing where our food comes from and being caring citizens – and this has, in turn, improved their education and wellbeing.”
Speaking after she met HRH The Earl of Wessex, Castle Manor Academy’s head girl, Melody Bray, 15, from Haverhill, said: “I was very excited to speak to him about some of our school trips and about the duties of head girl.
“He was very polite and easy to talk to. I think the visit has been great for the whole school.”
HRH The Earl of Wessex also met the school’s DofE participants who exhibited their camp and bushcraft skills, while children from the on-site Sandcastle Playgroup showed off their work with Alison Findlay from the Royal Horticultural Society and local B&Q staff who have donated materials for the area aimed to engage young children and their families.
Mrs Whitcombe added: “I would like to say a special thanks to Becky Baldwin who puts so much time and energy into making outdoor learning a fantastic experience for our children – and the work of Sandcastle Nursery for capturing a love of the outdoors at such a young age.”