Sedbergh school pupils learn about conservation

Pupils at Settlebeck High School in Sedbergh have been working hard to learn more about conservation – with a little help from the Yorkshire Dales National Park Authority (YDNPA).

They now have their own outdoor learning area in the grounds after Becky Barnes, a student now in Year 10, received a grant for a project that she completed on climate change, and chose to spend the money on developing a wildlife conservation area to increase conservation and to educate other students.

A group of mixed students from Year 7 to Year 10 has been working hard in the last year to create it with the experienced guidance of YDNPA Area Ranger Paul Wilkinson.

The pupils have put in lots of effort laying a hard core path suitable for a wheelchair to reach the conservation area, as well as building a fence out of recycled posts to border the conservation area.

Some boughs of copper Beech tree that had to be cut down for health and safety reason are being used to make benches, and the group has planted over 100 shrubs to grow into a hedgerow.

Making a gate - Settlebeck School

Making a gate - Settlebeck School

And flowering plants will be chosen to suit endangered species, particularly bees.

The group would eventually like to see the garden also being used by Sedbergh Junior School students and the local community.

In preparation for the work to be done in school, the group spent one day helping Paul plant hedges at the local allotments, and another with him exploring Winder, Arant Haw and a conservation area on the route to the fells.

The school’s Head of Science, Ruth Nelson, said: “These outings enabled them to identify the indigenous flora and fauna and – as they designed their own area and chose appropriate plants – to see how well conservation areas can work.”

Student Bradley Reid, who has spent time on work placement with the National Park Authority, Ranger Service, has also been helping Paul and his team to assess disabled access in the area, and a number of Year 10 boys have also learnt more about dry stone walling and been involved in local projects.

The group is also working towards the Discovery award from the national John Muir Trust, which encourages the discovery and conservation of wild places, in a spirit of fun, adventure and exploration.

“Their enthusiasm and drive have been fantastic,” Ruth said.

“There is still a lot of work to do, but the conservation area is developing at a great rate and their hard work should soon be rewarded as the planting and growing continues.

“Settlebeck High School has been building links with the YDNPA in many ways and the partnership has grown significantly this last year.”

Paul said: “It’s always a pleasure – and a lot of fun – to help school children develop a greater understanding of the natural world around them, especially when it links into the school curriculum.

“The creation of a conservation area like this helps them to understand and do something to help tackle the issues of climate change, conservation, threats to species and habitat and recycling.”

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