Woods of Hope

Published on: 14 December 2021

In the spring term of 2021, we saw the full return to school after a second long period of absence due to the Covid lockdowns.

After the lockdowns, we soon realised that children needed time to reconnect to friendships and relationships. Some members of the school community were likely not to have socialised or connected with anyone outside of their close family for many months and needed time and understanding to enable full reconnection.

Also, we knew that we must not underestimate the feeling of loss that our community may have experienced. Bustling classrooms and corridors, whole school assemblies, playing together, eating together, perusingthe library, singing – so many aspects of home and school life were reduced to bubbles and restrictions! Everything was now different. In fact, life moved on and none of us was in the same place that we were before school ended so abruptly and the lockdowns started.

As being outside and connecting with the environment is so important for wellbeing and emotional health, we decided that we would plant a “Wood of Hope” in each of the federation’s schools. In friendship groups, children across the schools planted a wide selection of trees, some saplings, some larger specimens. Wider members of our community came to plant a tree: our local vicar, church members, school governors, police and the Diocesan Director of Education. Together, the children will care for the trees and watch them grow. This project will be a legacy of this time and a reminder that we need to hold on to hope for the future, give ourselves something to look forward to and celebrate our own resilience. These woods link us to what has happened in our past but also provide us with hope for the future.

“It was wonderful to join the children in planting the trees for the Wood of Hope – not only to have the opportunity to be outside doing activities with each other and connecting with the wider community again – but to know that for years to come, there will be something amazing they were part of, growing there, which future generations of children can enjoy,” says David Blake, School Governor and PCC member.

We are adding further trees to our school woods over the next academic year to commemorate the Queen’s Platinum Jubilee as part of the Queen’s Green Canopy initiative. This national project reinforces the benefits trees have on our environment, health and wellbeing and our school woods will also provide an important area for the children to play and learn in for years to come.

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