Ruth Butler, School Governor, St John's CEC Primary School, Rowlands Castle, Hampshire (204 pupils) told us: 'We are really lucky as a primary school to have plenty of outdoor space, but we had dreams to expand and improve this further. Our school and PTA had worked hard over a number of years to raise funds for our Outdoor Learning Project, which involved transforming parts of our playground and field into an exciting learning environment. A learning tree hut was the final stage in completing this project – a timber-built “classroom in the sky”, complete with a viewing platform to see wildlife activity around the school pond and grounds. It even has an exit slide – what a great way to finish a lesson!
We managed to raise £18,000 for the hut through numerous fundraising activities, but needed an extra £3,000 to reach our target. We decided that crowdfunding was the way forward, so set up our project online with a list of rewards to encourage donors to pledge that little bit more. These included thank-you cards, handmade gifts, a guided tour of the new outdoor learning area, as well an invitation for afternoon tea during the tree hut’s grand opening. Our crowdfunding page was filled with sketches and drawings of the tree hut. We also created a video and asked the pupils to describe why the project was important to our school and how it would benefit their learning. This worked as a great promotional tool, especially as we were able to share it over social media.
We were delighted by how quickly people responded to our appeal, and in less than one month we had reached our £3,000 target, with an extra £45 on top! We even received a £1,000 anonymous donation. The build for the tree hut began in the summer holidays, and after a few months we had a fabulous grand opening. The children were absolutely delighted with the results, and we are so grateful to those who contributed to our project.'