Biodome project

Image: Adrienne Robertson

A £10,000 grant has made school gardening possible, whatever the weather!

Adrienne Robertson, Project Lead, Severn View Primary Academy, Stroud, Gloucestershire (72 pupils): 'Our school has some wonderful outdoor areas, but unpredictable weather has meant that previous projects have 
been difficult for pupils to complete successfully. Our Headteacher and Governors were keen to fix this issue, so as Outdoor Learning Facilitator I began researching and gathering data; asking children and parents what they thought would inspire pupils’ learning. I also evaluated the potential that the school grounds could offer, giving me a clear vision of how we could use these areas more effectively.

The solution was to install a biodome – a self-sufficient eco-system that recycles its own water and harvests the sun’s energy through solar panels. It’s also a great environment for growing organic plants using hydroponics. 
This would not only enhance learning opportunities, but also supply the school kitchen with fresh produce.
I heard about the Tesco Bags of Help campaign and decided to apply. This involved expressing the needs of the school, what the project would involve, and how it would benefit the children and the community. It also required a detailed outline of our costs and budget.

Initially we were awarded £8,000, but following an in-store voting process, our grant increased to an amazing £10,000. To begin with, we received two thirds of the funding to get the project off the ground, and after submitting a progress report, receipts, and photographs of the children’s involvement, the remaining third was granted. We were given a year to make use of the money, and a Grants Officer and Enabler were on hand to support us through the process.

I also approached the site manager at Rydon, a local construction company who are building new homes in the school community, and asked if they could help our project. They very kindly took out old playground equipment and built a new wooden deck for the biodome to sit on. They also provided all the decking and offered three days of work for no charge. As well as this, I wrote to other local companies outlining our project and asked for sponsorship. This raised £900!

Tesco were brilliant at helping to prepare the area before the biodome was installed and also provided free food on our recent Fun Day, in which we invited members of the community to visit the biodome. The whole project has created a lot of excitement and interest, and we are delighted with the results!'