Young mum spearheads a community venture to transform a Harborough district junior school as pupils gear up to return
'The response has been incredible. Everybody is being so positive and we cannot wait to get started'
A young mum is spearheading a high-octane community venture to transform a Harborough junior school as pupils gear up to return.
Christina Blockley, 28, is helping to power up an ambitious scheme to make the Great Outdoors an exciting reality for youngsters at Foxton Primary School.
Mums and dads, the school’s staff and villagers are now all getting behind the fresh air educational masterplan.
Christina’s appealing to local tradesmen and women along with stores and businesses to chip in and help their bold refurb dream in this picture postcard village come true.
“We have just come up with this exciting scheme this week and it’s already really taken off.
“The response has been incredible,” Christina, of nearby Gartree, told the Harborough Mail.
“Everybody is being so positive and we cannot wait to get started.”
The mum-of-two is acting as pre-school, Year 1 and Year 6 pupils prepare to return to Foxton school on Monday June 1 after weeks of coronavirus lockdown.
“Once our schools re-open their doors they will be encouraged to do as much outdoor learning as possible to slash the risk of Covid-19 spreading.
“It’s a daunting thought for our children to be back at school when we are still facing such worrying times with the coronavirus,” said Christina, who helps to run JJ’s Kiddycare nursery in Welford with her mum June and sisters Jenni and Rachel.
“And that made me decide to get together with my fellow mums to revamp the outside area at Foxton school.
“It will be far safer for the little ones if they can learn and play outside – and much easier to keep their distance.
“They will be breathing in pure fresh air in the Great Outdoors and it’s well known that being outside in nature is a fantastic tonic.”
She’s hoping to ignite the root and branch eco-makeover in the next few days.
“The school has a mud kitchen and picnic tables but it’s all very tired and dated.
“We’d love local tradesmen and women to make raised beds for allotments, outdoor seating/tables desks, dens, the works!
“We are also getting the teachers involved so we can achieve the vision they have for their perfect learning environment,” said Christina, whose son Oscar, four, is in the Foxcub reception class.
“And we are urging local stores such as B&M and garden centres to donate much-needed materials.”
She said they are aiming to “picket fence half of the playground to allow free-flow access for the reception class to be able to use all day every day”.
“They already have a separate allotment but would love raised beds for the children to do planting.
“We are also after outdoor chalkboards, outdoor easels, a wooden abacus, accessories for the mud kitchen, storage for bikes/equipment and small tables and chairs as well as picnic benches,” said Christina.
“Parents have already forked out £150 to get the ball rolling and we’ll all work flat out to make this work.”
Headteacher Phil Clark, who has 92 pupils aged from 4-11, told the Mail: “This is a brilliant scheme.
“We’ve had an excellent response and full marks to Christina and other mums for helping get this off the ground.
“We are lucky at Foxton school to have so many parents who are showing so much initiative, resourcefulness and enthusiasm.”
Phil added: “The last few weeks have been very surreal and very quiet without our children here.
“The pupils are the beating heart of our school – and we can’t wait to get them back.”
Reception teacher Amanda Bellamy said: “The outside area is an important extension to our classroom so we would like it to be as inviting and accessible as possible.
“We would like to have a secure, fenced-off area to allow the children free-flow access all day, every day.”
Fellow teacher Liz Foster said: “The benefits of lessons in an outdoor area help to support and develop both children’s physical and mental wellbeing.
“They can learn through imaginative play without limitation.”
Kate, who’s mum to Bethany, five, and Alyssa, eight, said: “The school works on the ethos of being one big family and on outdoor learning.
“An outdoor play area will allow free flow from classroom to outdoors - making going back to school safe and fun.”
Nicola, a reception mum and governor at Foxton school, said: “Having the Reception play area renovated will really help the transition for the children going back to school and create a positive play and learning experience.”
Fellow mum Julia added: “We are excited to be able to support our school in transforming such an important extension to the classrooms.
“The children will be thrilled with the changes and it will certainly be a huge treat for them when they are able to return to school.”
Sandy Bratu, an emotional literacy support assistant at the school, said: “Learning through play outdoors is important for a child's mental health and wellbeing.
“It builds their imagination, strengthens their physical skills and problem-solving abilities and allows them to discover their world at their own pace.
“It gives them a sense of freedom and encourages friendship and social skills.”
If you would like to back the bold bid to totally reinvent Foxton Primary School for over 90 grateful pupils you can email Christina Blockley at: [email protected]
You can contact the school at: [email protected]
And you can discover more about the village school here: http://www.foxton.leics.sch.uk/