An opening ceremony took place on the 24th June to celebrate the installation of new solar domes at Corbets Tey School. Mayor of Havering, Cllr Brian Eagling and Cllr Robert Benham – Trustee of the Veolia North Thames Trust, pupils and staff of the school cut the ribbon.
The purchase of the solar domes, which will be used to teach horticulture to the pupils was made possible thanks to a very generous grant of £50,500 from this Trust and £25,000 from the Parents and Friends Association towards the groundworks.
The domes will provide new and unique outdoor learning, practical learning opportunities for children at the school with complex learning disabilities and also to others in the community.
Corbets Tey School is a special school for 110 children with moderate and severe learning disabilities. Pupils in the school respond particularly well to sensory experiences and staff are very successful in making lessons creative, engaging, experiential, exploratory, motivating and fun.
The school began to introduce the teaching of horticulture to children in 2010 using donated raised beds and a small greenhouse. This enabled the school to offer gardening related learning opportunities to pupils where they could learn to appreciate nature and to learn in a practical sense about how plants, flowers, fruit and vegetables develop from seeds/bulbs and their relationship with the environment around them.
The use of outdoor spaces has been developed further where pupils use gardening and outdoor learning to work on specific learning targets. These sessions support pupils in working towards a wide range of targets including life skills, social and emotional development, health and wellbeing, and communication.
The Solar Domes are glass and aluminium geodesic structures and are ideal for hands-on, practical, creative cross-curricular teaching and learning activities incorporating Maths, Science, Horticulture and Art and improving thinking and problem solving, life skills, co-operation and interaction.
The domes are accessible for all pupils including those who use wheelchairs or have other mobility issues, as well as pupils with more complex needs. These spaces will extend the range of activities provided in a safe and secure environment and enable the school to support more pupils to benefit from Horticulture for many more months of the year.
Pupils can appreciate many other aspects of the commercial world and this will teach them functional life skills such as handling money and providing a vocational qualification for older pupils. Mini enterprise schemes where pupils can grow and sell their crops will help in establishing stronger links with other groups and the local community. This will further support pupils’ transition from child to adult and from school to further education, training or work placements.
Headteacher, Emma Allen said “ We would like to thank the Trust for their huge generosity to our school both in funding this project and previous donations towards our swimming pool and sensory play areas. Both our children and many others across Havering have benefitted tremendously from their generosity.
Doug Benjafield – Chairman of VNTT said “We are delighted that we have been able to give a grant to a project which will help pupils learn how to appreciate nature and how plants, flowers, fruit and vegetable develop from seeds and bulbs. It also fits in nicely with the ethos of the Landfill Communities Fund. As part of this scheme, every year the Trust is lucky to get a significant grant from Veolia Environmental Services Ltd, to support community projects like this one”.