Our lady's pupils in the new outdoor learning

Bangor pupils transform fly-tipping hot-spot into outdoor learning space

A brand-new learning garden was unveiled by pupils from Our Lady’s RC Primary School in Bangor last week — showcasing the remarkable change in appearance of what used to be a regular fly-tipping hot-spot.

The transformation project was funded by Fly-tipping Action Wales as part of its #NoMoreRubbishExcuses campaign and Adra housing association, who worked closely with the pupils to clear and revitalise the area, which Adra own and manage.

Located on the outskirts of Tai Station housing estate, the 12m by 5m Learning Garden is a 10-minute walk away from the school and provides not only a new learning resource for the children, but also a safe, outdoor classroom environment for the school to use during the summer months.

Boasting a meadow of wild flowers, bug hotels, new garden benches and even a wildlife pond, the learning zone took just 8 weeks to design and create — with the pupils having vital input from start to finish.

Site preparation work began in January this year, with members of the Adra team and local council removing masses of rubbish, over-grown weeds and household waste from the site.

Wild Elements, a local social enterprise dedicated to getting people outdoors, held regular gardening sessions with the pupils during school hours to guide them through the entire transformation process.

The Confucius Institute of Bangor also supported the project — enabling the pupils to visit Treborth Botanic Gardens on a school trip, where they conducted research to inform their own garden design.

Senior Environmental Project Officer at Fly-tipping Action Wales, Jayne Carter, said: “The piece of land is unrecognisable compared to how it looked a few months ago — all thanks to the fantastic efforts and cross-team collaboration demonstrated by everyone involved in the project.

“The Garden is a brilliant example of what can be achieved when community organisations pull together to tackle the issue of fly-tipping and the project has so far successfully prevented offenders from disposing their unwanted waste at the location.

“As with much of Wales, fly-tipping is a continuous problem in Gwynedd, so it’s more important than ever to educate our younger generations with the correct ways to dispose of waste legally and responsibly.

“The pupils at Our Lady’s RC School have shown such passion and determination for the project and we are thrilled that they were able to show off their hard work alongside Adr and all of the other partners involved at today’s event.”

Adra Estate Manager, Michael Evans, added: “This is the second fly-tipping hot-spot in six months that we’ve revitalised into a facility of benefit to the local community.

“We are always looking for new ways to discourage abuse of our land and through our ongoing partnership with Fly-tipping Action Wales, we’re keen to continue the rejuvenation of these regularly abused locations to help prevent further offences in the area.”

Director and founder of Wild Elements, Tom Cockbill, said: “From picking out plants in the local garden centre to designing bug hotels and planting herbs, the children have been heavily involved in the garden creation and design from the get-go.

“It’s been a pleasure to guide and support them in their venture and I look forward to watching the site progress even further under the pupils’ care over the next few years.”

Deputy Head of Our Lady’s RC Primary School, Mrs Aimee Jones, added: “The Learning Garden has already proven to be a fantastic new asset for our school.

“With many of our pupils having been involved in the project from the very beginning, not only has it helped them to refine and develop new skills such as team-work and problem solving, but it has also reminded them — and will continue to remind them — how important it is for us all to look after the local environment.

“Above all, it has enabled us to nurture creativity and develop confident and ambitious individuals, who are ethically informed and aware of the unacceptable behaviours linked to fly-tipping and littering in the local area.

“We are so grateful to all of the partners and organisations that have made our new outdoor learning space possible and feel proud that our pupils played such a key role in the entire transformation process.”