Young leaders in sustainability at Ashley School

All 331 children and 11 teachers from Ashley CE Primary School explored food growing and sustainability in the school grounds.  As well as growing food with gardener Darrell Leggett, children worked with artist Karen Wydler to explore the grounds and create new outdoor learning spaces.

Who was involved

  • Teachers and children from Ashley C of E Primary School, Surrey, Reception to Year 6
  • Creative practitioners: Darrel Leggett and Karen Wydler


How can a whole school food growing project empower our young people to be leaders in sustainability?


  • To engage children in outdoor learning and its relationship to the school’s food growing and sustainability ambitions
  • For children to lead the design and development of the gardens as a viable outdoor classroom
  • To provide older children with the platform to lead the development of the food growing project and to disseminate this throughout the school
  • To improve teachers’ confidence in using the outdoor spaces at Ashley Primary school to support learning
  • To begin to engage the wider community in the schools food growing and sustainability project.


Children engaged creatively and enthusiastically in the school’s outdoor spaces.

After the project, 84% of children felt that there was an outdoor classroom, compared with one third before.  Teachers gained confidence in using the outdoor areas to support learning, with 80% of teachers responding said that they would feel more confident using the outside space.

Practitioners and teachers noticed advanced communication skills in the children participating in activities, for example negotiating, joint-planning, and turn taking, even during all the excitement of getting messy outside!

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We need to spend all day out here.


I didn’t know it would be like this – it’s really fun.


We should have all our lessons out here.


We think it is a fabulous idea because you can link with nature and learn about plants and how to take care of the earth for the future.


It’s hands on and it sticks in your mind and the different areas with signs and activities make it fun.


That was great! We were working but it felt like playing.


I would never have thought of doing this.

Year 1 teacher