Skills Academy classes are a feature of our curriculum at Busby Primary School. They have been developed in partnership with pupils, parents and staff. Experts from the wider community are also invited in to enrich the learning experiences of the children.
Skills Academy use the Experiences and Outcomes as a starting point and focus on developing skills for learning, life and work through a range of meaningful experiences and contexts.
At Early Level, we have been learning about the different tools we use in the garden and how to keep safe when using them.
We have also been closely examining plants and carrying out experiments.
Our latest cohort took part in work on Cool With Tools where they investigated what is safe practice when working. we explored elements of simple Health and Safety.
We also used talking tins and cameras to record out on the field what items were growing and which were not.
During our Skills Academy, we have been looking at our school garden areas and helping to maintain them. We even managed to harvest a whole variety of things that have been put to good use during cooking lessons in various classes.
We also have taken responsibility for planting at Busby Station. We carried out a survey of what we needed to do, and are going back to carry out our plans.
Our second cohort of Skills Academy volunteers visited Busby Station to carry out some much needed maintenance and planting, in order to make the surroundings as pleasant as possible for commuters.
David Walsh (TCV Natural Networks Parks and Pollinator Officer) visited our First Level Skills Academy yesterday. He works for Buglife – The Invertebrate Conservation Trust, and came to take us on a Bug Walk. He made ladybird hotels with us out of bottles and string. He taught us about different species of ladybirds, their diet and that they’re beetles. We used his bug catching nets to brush the bushes and trees outside to see what’s living in our school garden.
Our First level group revisited Busby Station to maintain the tubs they had planted out and also to carry out a survey to suggest further improvements we could make.
The third cohort of children also had the opportunity to visit the station to make sure the tubs were looking at their best. The weather was not the best, but the pupils stuck to the task well. We are sure the commuters using the station will appreciate all the hard work.
Today the pupils had their first experience in planting edible crops using the Sow and Grow pack from Innocent. A group of cress, a group of baby carrots and a group of runner beans were potted in small containers to “bring them on” before we plant them outdoors when the weather improves.
Some of us were lucky enough to visit Rouken Glen. we were very interested in the Community Orchard.
Back at school we have been helping to plant crops for the summer.. We have planted potatoes and also helped to finish off our “Hanging Herb” garden.
An industrious session tidying the garden today, as well as placing more soil around the potato plants to encourage a bumper crop!
We competed in the Greenbank Garden Wheelbarrow Competition. It was great fun!
We had a special visitor in class who taught us all about Minibeasts. We made habitats and undertook a Minibeast Safari.
Here are the results of what we managed to find.
In our Skills Academy, we are looking to improve our Outdoor Learning Environment. We are working together as a team to create an amphitheatre space for outdoor drama. It will have a stage area and log seating.
We have planned carefully to decide where to site it and carried out a budgeting exercise to work out costs. Some of us visited Jewson to order, and pay for, materials.
We are looking forward to the practical building side of things!
Our building materials arrived on site and we worked as a team to quickly move them to our build site.
Our first job was to strip all the bark off the log stumps that we are going to use for our seating area. This was to help protect the stumps from rot.
Another busy day of construction on site, with the frame for the stage nearing completion and the next row of log seating being installed. The pupils worked superbly well completing all tasks in lightning quick time.
Today we worked on trying to complete the decked staging area. All the deckboards were laid out on the frame and we worked closely as a team to attach them with decksrews.
What a team effort!
Today the stage area officially opened! Our first customers were pupils from the Early Level Skills Academy.
The Second Cohort are looking to create a hanging bottle garden, which will recycle plastic drinks bottles and provide another growing space for the school.
Their first task was to help install the two posts that will support the frame.
We then looked at stringing wire to support the bottles. Eye bolts had to be screwed in and then wire was fed through these once the cross bars had been installed.
All the hard work paid off and the frame is now ready for the bottles. We just have to work out how to get the bottles to stay in place. Practical Problem Solving?
Today we started the preparations for installing the “fedge” behind the stage area. A fedge is a living willow structure, a cross between a fence and a hedge.
First of all we marked out where the fedge was going to be placed and prepared the soil. We turned over the earth, making sure to break it up.
Next we mixed in some compost to help give the new plants nutrients.
Finally we pegged down some barrier fabric to help keep the weeds away fro the new plants.
Now all we need are the willow rods to arrive!
The willow kits arrived today just in time for Skills Academy! We separated the rods into even piles and then had to plant them at 30cm intervals at an angle of 45degrees. Who says Mathematics can’t be fun?
We had to work as a team to put all of the willow into the ground, making sure we pushed the rods about 15cm into the soil.
We managed to get the whole fedge planted today. Now all we have to do is weave it all together and tie all the joints!
Today was our final outdoor session and a chance to complete our intended projects. We finished installing the last of our log seats, made sure the “fedge” was properly woven together and tied and installed the bottles in our hanging garden.
Cohort 3 are now underway, fully dressed and equipped to brave the element outdoors. Our first task has been to create some outdoor work tables using recycled industrial cable reels. The children worked collaboratively to prepare the wooden bases and then carefully marked out and attached astro turf to the top. The astro turf came from offcuts left over when our local tennis club had their courts replaced.
A very hard working, but productive first session!
Today started with some practical maths! The base for our Cob
Oven was built at the weekend and we had to plan out the site for the wooden pergola that is going to be built to shelter us when we are cooking outdoors. we had to work as a group, using four measuring tapes to make sure we got the siting of the corner posts square. The company who are putting up the pergola will be on site later this month.
Our next job was to create paper templates of the tops of the log seats. These templates helped us transfer the shape to astro turf, which we then cut out to finish off the top of our seats. We had to fix the astro turf with screws.
We had a very productive session outdoors and were delighted with the progress we had made!
Today the weather wasn’t kind to us, but our intrepid band of outdoor enthusiasts stuck to their mission to improve the school grounds! Our plan for this session was to install edging strip to the new pergola, as well as weed control fabric. This will allow us to fill the space with gravel next week, giving us a usable working space.
By the end, we were drenched, muddy, but happy and that’s what learning at Busby is all about!
Weather again played a big part in today’s outdoor experience, with rain, snow and wind failing to put off the enthusiastic members of the Second Level Skills Academy. the pupils arrived ready for some strenuous activity, knowing that three tonnes of gravel had been delivered from the local branch of Jewsons.
With spades, wheelbarrows and all available buckets at the ready the group set to the task of transferring the gravel from one end of the field to the other, before spreading it to form the base for the new Cob Oven area! The work was back breaking, but the pupils attacks did with huge smiles on their faces, ignoring all the heavens were throwing at them. By the end of the session, about a third of the gravel had been shifted, and the group are already looking forward to getting the rest moved!
A new cohort at Skills Academy were faced with a new challenge: planting Busby Primary’s first willow bed. The plants generated will be used in the future to create weaving materials and sculptures for the outdoor space.
Barrier fabric was put down and held in place by pegs. Holes were pierced and individual willow cuttings were planted. there were lots of different varieties and we can’t wait to see if they manage to grow.
Following on from our own planting, some of our Senior Pupils visited Cartmill Family Centre to create a willow bed for them too. We were very impressed with the new facilities, and the Nursery children made fantastic gardeners. They were a great help and we couldn’t have done it without them!
Returning after the Spring Break, the Second level group spent their time carrying out some much needed maintenance in the field. Weeding, tidying and planning skills were all very much to the fore!
We also completed work on some nifty log seats for the children in the Nursery.
We delivered them to the Nursery this afternoon and await pictures of them in use.
Last week of this block of Skills Academy saw the group having to work as a close knit team to assemble and construct a shelter/bird hide. This is to form part of our planned outdoor Early Years area. Many hands, patience and of course the drill were needed to make it a successful morning!
This week we began work on the Music Wall Area for our Outdoor Early Years Zone. Using two pallets and some of the recycled timber from our old shed, we worked together to create the actual wall. Next job is to find items to use as instruments!
Work began today on constructing the outside furniture for our Early Years’ Area. Much scratching of heads, discussing instructions and identifying of parts took place but good progress was made. Summer jobs in IKEA?
Despite particularly heavy rain, everyone was keen to get on with the jobs at hand. First up, we attached some lengths of pipe to the Music Wall to make a xylophone!
Next we carried on with building the outdoor furniture. This was even more difficult today, as the instructions became very soggy!