St John Plessington Catholic College

Poly-tunnel unearthed by geography department!

Over the last four weeks, the geography department have been engaged in a battle against one of the world’s greatest forces... nature! The team have been involved in a ground force inspired transformation, taking the overgrown poly tunnel from grim to glam in a matter of weeks.

Mr Rylance met with the team a few weeks ago, to discuss the poly tunnel’s potential as an outdoor educational experience. The poly tunnel stands tall as a 15m long professionally built structure, with 8 raised beds, a sprinkling system and a central walkway. The issue though (pre transformation), is that the raised beds could not be seen under the mass of weeds and brambles that had grown over time. The team were in for a challenging few weeks of clearing between lessons and composting between lunch breaks. The geography department sought the help of some Year 7 geo-club volunteers, and spades and trowels in hand, started work on clearing the area. Weeds were ripped out, brambles were cut back and hay barrels were discovered. The year 7 team helped to move the barrels out of the tunnel to create an outdoor seating area for classes to sit on during future sustainability themed lessons. Mrs Dean, on a hot and humid Wednesday, spent some of the day clearing the worst of the weeds and with the help of Miss McVey and Miss Varley (and verbal support from Mr Houghton), cleared the walkways around the beds back to grass and soil. Graham, our school groundsman, employed the help of some heavy duty gardening tools to clear the most stubborn of the overgrown vegetation, leaving a blank canvas for the pupils and staff to work with later on in the season. The geo club team have been working hard in the meantime to grow seeds on the windowsills of classrooms, ready to be planted once fresh compost is laid in September. The year 7s have also been voting on what they want to use the beds for, and the majority vote has learnt towards growing vegetables that the food and DT department can use in lessons to create home cooked and home grown food. The year 10s have also recently been discussing growing beetroot and using it as a key ingredient for chocolate cake! The potential of the Poly tunnel is endless and the geography team are looking forward to September when the compost is laid and the pupils are ready to plant. The green fingered journey hasn’t always been without challenges though, and has given the geography team the opportunity to both run and scream away from the school grounds into the safety of the classroom. Bee’s nests, mice hideouts and spider homes were unearthed alongside some interesting species of stinging nettles. Yet what has been made clear at the end of the ground force experience, is the school grounds have massive eco potential for both microclimates and vegetable patches! We are looking forward to seeing the progress of the tunnel over the next year – good luck to the geo warriors!