As a rural school that values the outdoors and hands on discovery experiences, Hennock Community Primary school wanted to put Natural Learning at the heart of their school.  So, a year ago they began a quest to redesign the school garden.  The School Council discussed their wishes for the new area and, after consultation with staff, parents and local community groups, they shaped the plan for a Natural Learning HQ.  The space would encompass a beautiful cob building fondly call ‘the Netton’ and flow out into growing, playing and meeting places for the children.  As this was to be a big project for such a small school, they set about finding supportive community partners and sponsors with their neighbour, Embercombe, playing a key role, offering their experience and an insightful vision.  Next on the list was to raise funds for the project. The children applied their persuasive writing skills and wrote fabulous letters to Devon Garden Trust who donated £1000 followed by £2000 from the local council.  Such pledges enabled the school to kick start the groundwork, clearing the area and repairing the stone wall behind the garden before a hectic ground force day event in Easter.  Their followed two days of hectic activity with Embercombe volunteers and the children leading the workforce; sawing benches, hammering together raised beds, digging a fire pit, wheelbarrowing in topsoil, manure and woodchip and constructing the stone base for the pizza oven.  Nikki Racey, Ash Class Leader said “It was an incredible sight to see parents, teachers and local people supporting the team of junior workers creating their new garden. The transformation was astonishing!”  Another key aspect of the design was the creation of a community space.  Tom Stacey, Head of School said “We have such fabulous committed parents who often give generously of their time – so on occasions such as ‘Love our School Day’ we felt we would like a way to celebrate our hard work and what better way than to feed the workforce with a pizza!”.  So, later in July, Embercombe returned for the next phase of the project, the construction of the new cob pizza oven.  This time children from Bearnes Primary School joined the team and for two days they squelched, splat and ‘squished’ their bare feet through enough clay to produce an incredible cob oven.  The children created ephemeral sculptures, grew sweetpeas, cornflowers, sunflowers and tomatoes.  The Early Years teamed up with Bearnes and ran weekly sessions in the garden with forest school trainee Gin Methley.  Throughout the Summer term Chrissie Mason ran a bat club to support the children to achieve their Bronze Bat Buddy Award and one of the raised beds was dedicated to plants that encourage bees and butterflies.  The culmination of all this hard work and dedication was seen on Friday 16th September with the first firing of the new pizza oven with friends from Embercombe, parents, children and staff on hand to learn how to make the most of this brand new community resource.  Nikki Dunford, Chief Executive of the Link Academy Trust, said “This brilliantly ambitious project took several months to realise from the early stages of creating a willow framework and squelching the clay mixture for the cob oven, to the finished product, the children were really enthusiastic about seeing their creation come to life.  Hennock school, as part of the Link Multi Academy Trust, have created something special and I am sure this space will continue to grow and develop just like our Hennock Natural Learners”.Np1060304-copy