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Edith Blunt Orchards

Having completed the first full year of fostering close links with The Edith Blunt Charity, there have been multiple benefits for the children of Upwell Academy, stakeholders and therefore, wider community members of Upwell. The impact of which can be summarised as follows:  

Upwell Academy Class-level Engagement  

This Academic Year, multiple classes have benefitted from visiting the Edith Blunt Orchards. This has provided an opportunity for learning outside the classroom - not only for a walk within the locality but rich, meaningful contexts: place value in mathematics using natural resources; exploration of habitats in science; reading for pleasure; drama and performing on the purpose-built education stage; real-life measures and problem-solving, for example. The walk to and from the orchards in themselves also provoke further useful learning and discussion. The pupils’ testimonials have been extremely positive about their experiences in the orchards, many of which even requesting further visits as part of class-based rewards or even stating how they engage in the orchards as part of their extra-curricular activities, e.g. with family and friends. Teachers also speak positively about their experiences within the orchards, citing it as a useful opportunity for delivering practical aspects of curricula whilst also sharing it as a good opportunity to further develop relationships with their pupils in a different environment and context.  

Whole School Engagement  

This Academic Year also saw the inaugural implementation of Upwell Academy’s Edith Blunt Reading Award where twenty-one children received the much sought after related certificate in our termly Awards Ceremony. Teacher selected through significant effort, progress or attainment they have made in their reading-based endeavours. Additionally, six exceptional children also received the highly desired £15 book voucher, kindly donated by Edith Blunt in recognition of their remarkable achievements in reading (1 in EYFS/KS1 and 1 in KS2 each term). The Edith Blunt Reading Award, now in its fourth term of implementation, has incentivised many pupils across the academy to read more widely and more often via special assemblies which have raised pupils’ awareness and motivation.  

Wider Community Engagement  

The display boards at Edith Blunt Orchards have two main features: mainstay contextual learning opportunities (which periodically change) within the orchard for all families within the community and theme-based learning opportunities within the orchard for all families within the community. 

Mainstay learning opportunities typically feature mind-fullness, mathematics, science, reading and writing tasks. Many children have shared their experiences with these (as part of their term-time, after school, weekend or holiday visits) via feedback to teachers in class, during their orchard visits and during assembly. Parents have also shared engagement through our photographic sharing platform.  

This year, theme-based learning opportunities centred around Easter and the late Queen’s Jubilee. The Jubilee was an opportunity for children in the community to demonstrate their creative flair by using natural resources in the environment to replicate jubilee-related pieces. Observational walks in the orchard were an opportunity to see some of the community's efforts: crowns made out of leaves, twigs, and feathers and sceptres made of pebbles and stones, for example. Easter was used as an ‘egg-citing’ vehicle for wider engagement in the orchards; multiple community members taking part in the hidden pebble-egg hunt challenge which myself and Mrs Roberts set. This challenge was further extended by community members who took it upon themselves to extend the ‘hunt’ by setting up challenges of their own for others. This excitement also translated into school through parents and pupils who spoke fondly of their holiday visits.  

Future Projects

In the next academic year our initial plans are:

  • Minimum-term class visits planned for every class from EYFS to Year 6 

  • Further embedding and raised profile of the Edith Blunt Reading Award 

  • Further themed events are planned, including a Christmas themed orchard event, providing an opportunity to engage in the orchard during a lesser used season 

  • Celebration display board shared  

On behalf of Upwell Academy, I would like to take this opportunity to thank the Edith Blunt Charity for enabling Mrs Roberts and I to provide these opportunities for our children and for their continued support.  

Teresa Ellington - Principal