Outdoor classroom a real community effort

The new outdoor classroom being constructed at St Michael’s Catholic Primary School, Dunedoo, is going to be a real community effort, teacher Sally Dent said.

“This generation of students is really conscious of their environment, and, coming from a rural community, they are keen to be outside and learn in practical ways. That’s the purpose of the outdoor classroom,” Dent said.

St Michael’s is a small school, with only 40 students, located an hour’s drive from Mudgee, but it has big plans for environmental and sustainable education. One part of that will be an outdoor classroom for students, funded by an IEU/TMB Environmental Grant, but there is already an Indigenous totem display, a range of planter boxes and native plantings lining the perimeter of the school oval.

These were developed with the assistance of the local community, including volunteers, Landcare, TAFE and a Work for the Dole program. There are also plans to better irrigate the school oval from rainwater tanks, develop a vegetable patch and establish a sensory garden for students with special needs.

The school also contributes to the local community. Students are active in local groups like Landcare, and recently planted hundreds of native trees in the local parks.

IEU Organiser Keith Heggart, said: “One of the reasons that the committee rated this application so highly is because of the community involvement; we could see that the grant will be part of a much wider engagement with environmental education”.