A FAMOUS face who knows a thing or two about gardens had high praise for a Morpeth school’s new facility.
After being successful in its bid for almost £10,000 in funding from the National Lottery’s Awards for All grants scheme last summer, Chantry Middle School and Technology College has developed a new garden and outdoor learning centre.
And staff were delighted when the Duchess of Northumberland, who created The Alnwick Garden, came along to cut the ribbon at the official opening.
The area behind the school’s new science block, formerly a grassed plot, is now paved and it has a greenhouse, pond, raised beds, many more flower containers, a pergola and a storage shed.
Teaching Assistant Alison Bruce, who applied for the funding, said: “Our lunchtime gardening club was using the area, but it was in a bit of a state so it was hardly used in the autumn and winter.
“Now it can be used all year round for gardening and lessons, and pupils will be able to better understand the role plants and shrubs play in the natural world.
“They will be doing some ‘recipe beds’, where most of the ingredients needed for meals such as vegetable soup will be in one raised bed, so they can find out for themselves how food is made from start to finish.”
The Duchess was also given a tour of the school and she chatted with students and staff.
“I was honoured to be asked to open the garden,” she said.
“It’s a great resource that will help get pupils interested in gardening and teach them about growing plants and food as well as nutrition.
“I was impressed with the quality of what I have seen at the school, including the excellent new buildings.”
Work on the facility was supported by contractors Kier and sensory features were added after staff received advice from the Northumberland County Blind Association.
A bug hotel is in the pipeline to help attract more wildlife to the area.
Chantry Assistant Head-teacher Elaine Skinner said: “This grant has allowed us to create a wonderful new garden and an area for outdoor learning.
“We’ve already had science classes testing soil samples and a maths group has made a scale model of the facility.
“Some of the things grown by the students are being used in the school kitchen for lunchtime and for food technology lessons.”