PRIMARY school youngsters across Hartlepool can learn all about the great outdoors after work started on an ambitious learning area.
The Forest School project is being developed within the grounds of Rossmere Primary School.
A three-quarters-of-an-acre grassed field – at the corner of Callander Road and Catcote Road – is being transformed into a natural learning environment featuring up to 500 trees and large shrubs, a boggy area, a wetland area, a fire pit, meadows, areas for den building, a bird hide and bird station, a small ravine, woodland trails, stepping stones, small bridges and totem poles.
A key element of the project is the creation of an outdoor eco-classroom and a teaching space based on the design of a yurt, a traditional, portable building used by nomads in Central Asia.
The initial ground works, which are being carried out by Brambledown Landscapes from Durham, began last week and are expected to be completed before Christmas.
Further works will follow and the project is expected to be largely complete – with the exception of the eco-classroom – by the end of March next year.
Rossmere headteacher Lynne Pawley said: “The project has been a long time in the planning, but we are delighted to have reached this important milestone.
“Now that work is under way, it is great to see our vision for the site becoming a reality.
“The project will have huge benefits for children across the town as it will enable us to bring the academic curriculum to life through a range of adventurous, stimulating activities.”
Rossmere Primary School’s own pupils will benefit directly from the project, but so too will children from other schools across the town.
Carol McCletchie, the school’s vice-chairman of governors and chairman of the Rossmere Forest School Steering Group, added: “It has taken a lot of hard work by many people to reach this point, and I am really looking forward to seeing significant progress being made on this important project.
“It is an exciting development for both Rossmere Primary School and Hartlepool as a whole.”
Councillor Chris Simmons, chairman of Hartlepool Council’s Children’s Services Committee, said: “When the council agreed to support this project it was clear that it had the potential to provide a big boost to learning for pupils in all parts of the town – in line with our commitment to give all children the best possible start in life – and I am delighted that work is under way.”