School wants its own forest

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A PRIMARY school is looking to create an innovative school forest to be used as a new outdoor learning space for children.

Rossmere Primary School, in Hartlepool, is looking to secure funding to help pay for the project, which could see an eco-classroom, outdoor amphitheatre and stepping stones built over three quarters of an acre on land that backs on to Callander Road and Catcote Road.

Hartlepool Borough Council’s children’s services committee had met once to discuss the project but deferred a decision until they had received a further presentation.

That happened this week but it was made clear a final decision would not be made until a future meeting, pending a final report.

Members heard forest schools can help boost self-esteem and self-confidence, improve interaction and give children a greater understanding of the natural environment.

The estimated cost is £89,700 and the school had applied for £80,000 towards that.

Carol McCletchie, vice chair of governors at the school, said: “All forest schools are proven to improve attainment.”

If it does eventually go ahead then other schools would be involved including nearby St Teresa’s Primary School, in Callander Road, and also the nearby children’s community centre, while other schools could also book slots.

Last month, West View Primary School, in Davison Drive, was granted £147,792 towards improvements to the early years foundation stage at the school while Rift House Primary School, in Masefield Road, was awarded £45,845 which will go towards an outside area in the foundation stage.

Putting Hartlepool First councillor Geoff Lilley said he was concerned Rossmere School had gone through the application process and was recommended for funding yet still had to come back and present more information.

Labour councillor Marjorie James said her concern was about the council not being in a financial position to fund all phases and how would that benefit the children.

But Ms McCletchie said the project could still go-ahead with less funding, that the school had never asked for funding to be phased and there was no upper limit when they applied for funding.