In July 2013 the school undertook a research project with Groundwork North East and Cumbria to develop a concept plan for our grounds. The school has a lot of outdoor space that can be utilised but minimal indoor space and the project was initiated to see if we could make more use of our land. The research project gathered feedback from the community, parents, governors, pupils and volunteers to prioritise use of our grounds and its development. The school has steadily worked its way through the concept plan and we now have a library bus on our school yard open to the community, allotment beds and a greenhouse, loose part play, woodland and orchard. The next phase of our plan is to provide all weather or improved sports pitches and a shared sports/ activity building with the community.
I found with fundraising in the community there was a lot more buy in from everyone when we focussed on fundraising for a ‘LIBRARY BUS’ and a picture of a similar project already completed -rather than just fundraising for the school in general. Everyone bought into the idea and for the community to use it. A grandparent even made us a double decker bus cake to raffle! We now have the local scouts and beaver’s wanting to use our bus on a weekend and we obtained a grant from the community foundation to open the bus on a Saturday to all children in the community which also makes our school attractive in comparison to others.
The easy part was actually the conversion of the bus as this was all done off site by the coachwork company. Towing it onto site was a little more tricky but our local farmer helped with his tractor in the end!
Items that became a little more expensive was laying the electric cable , we had to tarmac an additional hard stand on the yard because of the weight of the bus which was £5k and we hadn’t factored in for. The electric installation inside the bus, the air sourced heat pump to keep the bus at a constant temperature and furniture fit out were relatively straightforward and with wonderful results.
We had a good response to grant applications and obtained £5k from the Foyle Foundation, £5.5k from Gateshead community fund towards the project to get it completed with brand new furniture and a massive selection of fabulous books!
Mandy Tulip, Business Manager, Parkhead Community Primary Schoool