Langley School in Sutton Coldfield has around 120 pupils with a range of special needs, including autistic spectrum condition and learning difficulties. Skilled staff work with the children, identifying individual needs so that independence, communication and social skills can be promoted. And for those with particular disabilities, gardening has been proven to carry many benefits.
When the school relocated to their present building 10 years ago, with help from the Lottery fund, planters, bird feeders and a small water feature were installed. Then a few years later a small group of staff decided to re-vamp the roof terrace, taking responsibility for developing it into a meaningful environment for the pupils. With kind donations from families, staff and friends, they were able to add new planters and introduce an arch, making sure there weren't any plants with thorns, spikes or that were poisonous. The roof terrace is now maintained by a joint gardening club. This group tries to meet once a fortnight to plant, weed and complete garden based activities. Classes still use the terrace for lessons and free time.
On the 18th June, GardenSite was invited by Sam Cawthorn to have a look around the school grounds and were taken on ‘Langley’s judges' route.’ Located on the roof terrace and inside their onsite Forest Garden, the itinerary showcases just how amazing nature can be.
Along the route, we were shown a mud kitchen where the pupils can enjoy the outdoors whilst expressing themselves. Mud kitchens offer a learning experience as well as entertainment for the children. We were also shown the roof terrace where they have a calming sphere water feature and lots of different plants filling the air with scent for the children to explore. Sensory gardens and activities like these give special needs children a chance to engage all the senses and provide them with a hands-on learning experience which can enhance their self-esteem and help them feel independent.
After looking around the outdoor area, we felt a donation of two Kids VegTrugs and a Bug Hotel would be very beneficial for the pupils. A Bug Hotel will be a stunning addition to Langley's wildlife garden and can eventually be very educational for the children because they will, hopefully, be able to observe some mini mammals and insects, such as; hedgehogs, ladybirds and bees, up close.
Sam Cawthorn says, "Gardening has always been regarded as a therapeutic activity and research has shown that handling different plants and flowers can have beneficial effects on both physical and mental health. It is widely recognised as a tool to help people with disabilities and special needs."
On the 9th July, David and his colleague Andy stopped by Langley School to hand over our special donations ready for the Sutton in Bloom judging on 10th July. This included; Two VegTrug Planters (/garden-structures/vegtrug-kids-planter.htm), a Bug Hotel (/garden-care/wildlife-care/educational-triangle-crittacabin.htm), 4 bags of compost and some mixed seeds.
Cllr Terry Wood, Chairman of the Sutton Coldfield in Bloom working group, also visited the school before judging day to check out our donations and to show his support.
Terry Wood said, “It was a pleasure to see participants from various organisations present their hard work and efforts over the year with such enthusiasm. It’s been blooming wonderful, the community blossomed today!”
Judges visited Sutton Coldfield on Wednesday 10th July to view the work that goes into keeping our town clean and green. This year’s route highlights ongoing projects from 2018.
The Sutton Coldfield in Bloom kicked off with a visit to Hill Allotments where judges viewed a plot that was voted ‘best allotment plot’ last year. Moving on to Ian Hazels to hear about the businesses progress over the last 12 months. Langley School were next. They were selected after winning the Mayor’s ECO Challenge in 2017/18, and have a fantastic outdoor garden. Judges also visited Sutton Park and New Hall Mill before moving on to view a residents garden.
The floral scheme for 2019 consisted of colours scarlet, cherry, white, silver, blue, lime salmon, orange, apple blossom and bronze. However, it's not all about flowers, the judges are looking at evidence of environmental responsibility, community involvement, recycling and general cleanliness of the town.
The results will be announced at an awards ceremony in Dunchurch on 5th September 2019.