Balcombe volunteers restore school’s pond and wildlife sanctuary

A school pond and wildlife sanctuary has been restored to its former glory thanks to parents and village volunteers.

Thursday, 22nd April 2021, 3:47 pm

The Rix at Balcombe Primary School was inaccessible to teachers and children after rampant brambles and weeds overran the paths, dipping platforms and surrounding banks.

Parents and Balcombe’s Guerrilla Gardeners got together to tackle the site, and the children are now enjoying the early signs of spring in the water and on the banks.

Wendy Millbanks, headteacher, said that “Myself and the staff are incredibly grateful to the hardworking volunteers.

Balcombe Primary School SUS-210419-170549001

“Their efforts meant that the pond and its surrounds were once again enabling teachers to demonstrate the importance of wildlife conservation and habitat diversity, which are key subjects for the school.

“The children have been able to visit the pond with their class teachers and have been eagerly looking out for frogs and tadpoles, as well as different insects and plants.

“They have already seen newts, which has been very exciting for them.

“We are all eager to see what else appears as the year rolls on and the weather improves.”

The Balcombe French Association is sponsoring the pond restoration by paying for some native wildflower planting and by buying new pond dipping equipment, magnifying pots and identification charts.

The restoration of the pond is the first step in a plan to improve the use of the school’s outdoor space to further enhance learning and support the well-being of the pupils.

Wendy said: “The last 12 months have been incredibly tough for the whole school community.

“With this in mind, the staff and governing body are committed to ensuring that the pupils are well supported as they recover from the impact of the pandemic.

Other projects include an all-weather play trail, natural climbing areas, raised gardening beds, creative play zones and brightening up the outside classrooms.

Due to budgetary constraints, most of this work will be carried out by volunteer working groups, making good use of donations or using money raised by the children.