Open Spaces Round Up

Here’s a report from Mrs Brereton and her team on the amazing Open Spaces endeavours this year:

What a year it has been for us in so many different ways, not just in Open Spaces. We have had so many different challenges to contend with and despite them, we have always made progress.

The very first change to Open Spaces, was the Bubble system, so we adapted to this and began Bubble Gardening. With 45 Year 7 students coming after school each Thursday, we felt very blessed to be able to offer such a positive outlet for high spirits and collective gardening.  Our activities included laying paths, planting seeds, potting on seedlings and watering in dry seasons. Peas and broad beans are setting and the strawberries are ripening as I write this.

Amidst Covid, we also had Avian flu to contend with.  This meant that we had to adapt quickly to keeping the poultry under cover.  After a few comical moments, where hens turned into Houdini in their attempts to escape, problems were overcome and we kept them happy throughout the snow. A real indication of how happy they, were was the continued flow of eggs, throughout this period. Our Supporters continued to take eggs from the box at the front of school- than you to you all!

We are deeply grateful for our successful Crowd-share for a new shed.  This was put up by Year 9 Agriculture Students in their Creative Curriculum weekly lesson.  We are now raising money to extend the Hen house outdoor pen, in case Avian Flu returns next winter.  We have already raised £100- thank you once again to our Supporters.

An exciting development during Lockdown was the arrival of more life – we had some baby lambs and also a pair of guinea pigs – donated by Mr and Mrs McGaffin- thanks to them for their continued support.

We were fortunate enough to have Gary Swainson and the Birds of Prey demonstrating falcons and owls in flight for Open Spaces pupils after school. This was a very popular event, well supported by students and staff. There are some lovely photos of this on our Social Media page – check out WHS Open Spaces Facebook page for more details and photos. We are very grateful to WHS for partly funding this event.  Next year will see a return of Gary and the birds.

The sheep were sheared, with a demonstration by our very own Mr O’Connell, of the Maths Department.

The produce table is once more up and running, thanks to Mrs McGaffin and Mrs Bouch.  We have a great range of products for a donation.  All proceeds go straight back to Open Spaces and fund future ventures.

And lastly, this week the Year 9 Agriculture students have been very busy helping build a fence around ‘the hill’ behind the ATP where the sheep now reside. It’s taken real teamwork and determination to knock all the posts in and secure the wire tightly. Well done team!

Looking Forward – we are very pleased to announce that we are going to be receiving a hive of bees for a secluded corner of Open Spaces. This has been organised by Mrs Raelene Carruthers- to whom we are very grateful for the ongoing support.


Here’s what some of our students think about Open Spaces:

Tia McIntosh: “Today in open spaces, we had a guinea pig playdate. We have guinea pigs and rabbits which we can hold and pet these animals. We also get many chances to look after wildlife, plant pots and water these plants. We have the chance to go to many events, and there are competitions almost every half term! I really enjoy being here, and I’m sure everyone else does too!”

Evie Mellor: “I think having animals like rabbits, guinea pigs and sheep at school in open spaces is a great thing because it allows students who might not be able or allowed to have pets/ animals at home to interact with them. Having animals at school might convince people who don’t like going outside, to be outside with the animals.

Doing gardening at Open Spaces is also a good thing to do because it might make people realise that they really enjoy gardening and growing their own food so they might do it at home more often and it subtly teaches you more about different types of food you can grow and how to look after it.”

Abel Hershon, talking about the Falconry event: “The Falconry display was a very exciting event with lots of birds from owls to falcons to vultures. This was great fun and exciting to watch some of the birds fly around, especially the falcon. I also learned facts about the birds that I didn’t know. I enjoyed watching them fly from one arm to another over and over and some of the noises that the birds made (especially the owls) were adorable. All in all a great Open Spaces day, if they do it again I highly recommend you come to Open Spaces and enjoy it.”


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