New outdoor learning space at Leonay Public School

Almost an hour from inner Sydney, Leonay Public School is home to 250 students across 10 classes. In 2019, Leonay has made a change to their curriculum — they’ve embarked on a Sustainability Project across all levels of the school. This new program hopes to do three things: engage students and get them thinking about their environment and ecosystem; expand Leonay’s extra-curricular activities; and build a sense of community among the parents.

But changes to the curriculum are only the beginning. Adrian Davies, the Vice Principal of the school, wanted to create a space that would allow parents and students alike to learn about their environment and sustainability, and create a pleasant space to inhabit. Adrian spotted a corner of the school grounds that’s currently going under-utilised and applied for a Reece Grant.

Adrian’s Reece Grant has funded the installation of proper irrigation of the raised garden beds, using a rainwater tank and guttering to maintain sustainability. Parent volunteers along with Profile Landscapes assisted in landscaping the space with granite paths and installing screens for climbing plants and student artwork, with local businesses donating compost bins and worm farms.

“We’re teaching students about living an environmentally considerate life”

Adrian wants to teach students about ‘closing the loop’, demonstrating the rainwater cycle through the new irrigation system. They’ll also understand how water can be collected without relying on water mains. Students will learn about the biosphere they live in and understand how everything connects to everything else. Adrian says, “we’ll also see these lessons translate back into the households of our students, increasing the whole community’s awareness of their environmental impact”.

The lessons don’t stop with ecology, either. The school also plans on planting fruits and vegetables, so that students can learn where their food comes from and how it’s grown. This will also include the planting of edible indigenous plants, which the school will use to teach students about the original Aboriginal inhabitants of Leonay and the surrounding area, the Mulgoa people.

For Adrian, this project is an important part of instilling a latent respect for environment and history in the next generation will ensure a happier, healthier earth.