After two years of meetings and meticulous planning involving the County Council, a vast array of community partners and metres of red tape, the Landscaping Project at the Inclusion Centre, Droitwich Spa High School and Sixth Form Centre, is now happening. In fact it’s currently a work in progress.
How did it all start?
It all started two years ago when I went to see Mr Buckell, the Head of Inclusion at the Centre, along with our marketing manager Rob Willis. We went along to meet Mr Buckell to present him with a cheque for £200. This was a contribution towards extra-curricular activities for his students.
The Inclusion Centre is a ‘school within a school’ that provides a welcoming environment for pupils attending the High School. Those moving from middle school particularly can find high school daunting and over-whelming. However it’s not just the new intake that experience difficulties in integrating into main stream learning activities as pupils from all year groups can sometimes feel a little isolated and alone.
I can remember vividly my first day at high school (yes, even that far back) and I was alarmed by the size and scale of the place and found it totally terrifying. The fifth-form girls were really scary (although I had one great ally in my big sister, studying for her GCEs… there I go again showing my age).
Student chill-out area
The Inclusion Centre is surrounded by low grade scrub which slants down towards a steep embankment where the River Salwarpe and Elmbridge Brook meet. When Rob and I presented Mr Buckell with the cheque he showed Rob and me his dream.
Giving us a tour of the site, he told us he had dreams for the unused land to become a nice student chill-out area. He also told us that some of the students suffering from anxiety found the pursuit of fishing really therapeutic. We told him about a landscaping project we did at a local school for children with learning difficulties and how much we enjoyed the team-building element of it.
Mr Buckell then suggested that perhaps Postcode Anywhere could get involved in helping the Centre in a practical way, and we discussed the possibility of collaboration between the two parties. We all knew that this was an ambitious project and there would undoubtedly be a lot of red tape to cut through before we could even think about donning our wellingtons and gardening gloves. But this still did not dampen our spirits or curb Mr Buckell’s enthusiasm.
Coming to fruition
To cut a long story short, after months of planning involving Worcestershire County Council’s County Ecologist Cody Levine as well as architects and the Environment Agency, the project is now coming to fruition. Conceptual proposals have been drawn up and the Inclusion Centre has the go-ahead to develop a whole new ecology site.
More recently the Inclusion Centre has been working with the organisation ‘Forest Schools’ to help get the project underway.
I took Postcode Anywhere’s MD Guy Mucklow along to the Centre to meet Mr Buckell, because I knew he would think the project was a fantastic one, particularly as the plans for the site had evolved way beyond our expectations. I was absolutely right because when we left the site he was full of enthusiasm and generated loads of ideas on how best to proceed and accomplish our objectives.
Of course there are still a few bureaucratic processes to sort out, for example the health and safety and the public liability insurance implications of working without professional supervision on the school’s campus. It looks like we will have to hire a professional landscape gardener to supervise us. Either way we are sure that any hurdles we face can be overcome with a bit of common sense and creative thinking.
We are hoping to be in a position to start clearing part of the site in the spring.