Winmarleigh School win 2016 Lancashire Life School Garden of the Year competition

PUBLISHED: 14:54 24 April 2017 | UPDATED: 14:54 24 April 2017

The green fingered pupils with John Foley and teachers Sandra Wilson and Sarah Shaw

The green fingered pupils with John Foley and teachers Sandra Wilson and Sarah Shaw

glynn ward

Winmarleigh School is one of the tiniest in the county, but all the pupils helped create an award-winning garden

Digging in are Jessica Cadman, Jorja Nickson, Joshua Sutcliffe and Arthur CollinsonDigging in are Jessica Cadman, Jorja Nickson, Joshua Sutcliffe and Arthur Collinson

One of Lancashire’s smallest schools has triumphed in our annual hunt for the pupils with the greenest fingers. There are only 26 children on the register at Winmarleigh School but they were all involved in creating a winning garden and they can now look forward to another year of happy gardening, after they were presented with the £750 prize.

Held in collaboration with multi-award winning gardener, John Foley of Holden Clough Garden Centre in Bolton-by-Bowland, our School Garden of the Year competition is aimed at encouraging youngsters to develop a passion for plants and to sow the seed for a life-time’s love of gardens and growing.

Teacher Sarah Shaw, who read about the competition in Lancashire Life, said: ‘When Ofsted came last May, they picked us up on working on the outdoor area so we thought we’d get the whole school involved.

‘There were beds there already, but there were all overgrown so we asked the school council – that’s all 26 pupils in the school – what they would like to do with the area and they came up with most of the ideas themselves.

Part of the winning team - Thomas Whitaker, Charlotte Houghton, Tom Thornton and Kiki BloodPart of the winning team - Thomas Whitaker, Charlotte Houghton, Tom Thornton and Kiki Blood

‘They all got stuck in and did a tremendous amount of work clearing the area and deciding what they wanted to plant.

‘We had children from reception up to year six working alongside each other and they were all learning from each other and they all really enjoyed it.

‘The children were given a budget for what they could spend and they planned what they wanted to buy. They grew all sorts of things and it did wonders for their self-esteem when they sold what they had produced.’

Sarah, who has taught at the school for two and a half years since moving from a large primary in Lancaster, added: ‘I had a class of 30 year ones in my previous school, here I have 16 children from years three, four, five and six.

Keen gardeners Marley Riley, Laura Thornton, Issey Blood, Amy Underwood and Danny HunterKeen gardeners Marley Riley, Laura Thornton, Issey Blood, Amy Underwood and Danny Hunter

‘In a normal class you would find a huge spread of abilities and in some ways it’s easier having a range of ages too, because it means the higher ability younger pupils can work alongside the older children.

‘The children’s attitudes towards each other are wonderful. In many schools the year groups don’t really mix, but here they all play together and look after each other.

‘There are times when it’s tricky – there are fewer children in the class so there aren’t so many people to bounce ideas off, but it’s a lovely place to teach and I don’t plan to go back to bigger schools.’

Sponsoring our School Garden of the Year competition again this year, John Foley, a former winner of the BBC Young Gardener of the Year award, presented Winmarleigh School with a prize worth £750 to help their garden grow even more beautifully.

‘I was impressed with the diversity of their garden,’ said John, who was involved in the creation of the Blue Peter garden at Salford’s Media City. ‘They could have just done one thing with the garden but they have a range of things in there.

‘It was also good to see so many of the children getting involved, school gardens are often looked after by a select group of children but the whole school was able to get stuck in here and that’s great to see.’

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