Hermitage Park Primary
Hermitage Park's playground was bare and boring. It is a community playground, and the school and children were clear that it would be best to involve the whole community in changing it.
The playground issues had been raised at our pupil council meetings and they decided that something had to be done.
The pupil council is a democratically elected group of children who represent every child within the school and were therefore keen to ensure that every child was consulted on everything they did. This involved conducting surveys, counting votes and reporting back to classes. As the project moved on, they also had to survey the local community and find out what they wanted and this resulted in the organisation of an open evening where the whole community was invited to see the plans and to find out what they thought. The children made presentations, had a comments box available and asked other groups, such as Grounds for Learning, Parents Association and CETS to come along and explain why their organisations were involved with this project too. They had also made a huge (floor) book which listed all the values and principles that being a co-operative school meant and shared this with everyone on the evening. To encourage them to attend, they gave them all juice and hot drinks, kindly supplied by Scotmid!
The main aims were to find out what everyone wanted in the playground, who could help and where they could get money to do all the things they wanted. Because they work co-operatively, they needed to make sure they were following all the co-operative values ... being democratic and helping our whole community.
The best bit was that because of what they did, they became the first school in Edinburgh to achieve level 3 Scottish School of Co-operation!
The first thing we did was to vote on what project the whole school wanted to do. The pupil council did a survey round all the classes and of course we found out it was the school playground that everyone wanted to improve. We asked each class which part of the playground they wanted developed first. We added up all the scores and found out that people wanted an activity area outside and they also wanted an imaginative play area, so they could make dens and things. Some people also wanted a garden.
We contacted the council's Play Development Officer, who brought in lots of pieces of junk and let us do anything we wanted with them. This was the start to the imaginative play area. The teachers and PSAs were also trained to help us become even better at play. We can also use it when we do outdoor learning.
We realised we needed more help, and money, to get all the other things our school wanted so we invited the community to an evening event to tell them all about our playground project so they could add their comments and ideas as well as help with ideas for fundraising. We made a comment box and got lots of comments. We made a big book which showed all the co-operative values and we explained to everyone how we were using this to help us become a Scottish School of Co-operation
We made a video (above) to explain what we were doing and try and get some money from different organisations. We received a grant from £eith Decides to buy a shed for all our new equipment and new benches where we can have lunch or do work outside. We have now made another video highlighting that we need more things to play with and sending it to £eith Decides and Tesco, to try and get more funding for the next phase of our project
We have now handed over to the new Pupil Council and they are starting to collect "Loose Parts" for us to play with. They are also investigating what else we need for our playground and what other funds we can apply for.
We all gained confidence and how to be project managers. We also learned how to get information and how to present this information to our peers and the wider community.
We hope that eventually , once all the ideas are done- we will have a much better community playground.
It has helped to bring the community together more as it is used by everyone, not just the school pupils.
This project has given us the opportunity to demonstrate the wide range of cooperative working, which is now embedded within our school.
We developed confidence in in taking personal responsibility for how our school playground developed and now we are looking to see what else we can get involved with.
This project is definitely sustainable because the new Pupil Council are taking over where last years left off. The intention will be to continue until the whole playground is complete however long that takes, and then to maintain it.
The sustainability factor of this project is in the fact that it is the pupil council are democratically deciding and agreeing what their next steps will be. Each new project will now be run with co-operative values and principles at their heart so the whole co-operative school model is also now embedded.
The Co-operative Education Trust Scotland (CETS) visited the school and talked through the various ways in which we could become a Scottish School of Co-operation and offered to speak with our pupil council as well.
Denise Penman: firstname.lastname@example.org
Next steps in co-operative enterprise activities:
It has given us a good focus for the pupil council and since CETS have been involved we now have a proper structure and it had had a knock on effect to other groups in the school who think the way the pupil council is run is a good way to do things.
Campaigning for places in Pupil Council has increased as pupils now look to see what they can promise in their manifesto.
Before we came up with the playground project, Pupil Council was a bit bitty and since this project, everyone wants to be on the Pupil Council.