Students get to build their own wildlife paradise

PUBLISHED: 10:21 07 May 2019

Attention to detail is key to producing a natural paradise

Attention to detail is key to producing a natural paradise


Students have had a chance to get back to nature and develop their own natural paradise.

The students wait to get stuck inThe students wait to get stuck in

The college students and staff built the outdoor space in Bromley.

The youngsters attend London South East Colleges' Nido Volans Centre.

They had the opportunity to get out in to the big open wild and successfully transformed a giant area of wilderness.

Actually, it was within the grounds of its Bromley Campus but was still turned into an area of beauty and tranquillity, said college staff, and it also provided some essential training in landscaping while maintaining natural conditions.

Even the fences use natural materials in keeping with the wildsEven the fences use natural materials in keeping with the wilds

At the beginning of the project back in September 2018, it was virtually impossible to get more than three feet into the wooded area that forms a perimeter to the colleges' huge playing field area because of its dense undergrowth.

After all that hard work, students, staff and visitors can now enjoy a long stretch of woodland nature trail taking in a small open-air theatre arena, an outdoor classroom and stunning views that include the popular and well-known Norman Park fishing lake.

This new nature trail is the amazing brainchild of Special Educational Needs and Disabilities, or SEND, tutor James Plant.

And to back up his teaching skills, he has recently qualified as an Advanced Forest School Association Leader, a level that was vital in the success of the project.

Students learn about the great outdoorsStudents learn about the great outdoors

Forest School is a specialised learning approach that focuses on providing outdoor and woodland education to mainly primary, secondary and special needs pupils and students around the world.

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Leading his team back into the woods for a further session of clearing, digging, shovelling, barrowing and construction work, James said: “In all my years as a teacher, I don't think I can ever remember a project that has engaged and captured the imagination of four complete groups of students like this one has.

“On day one, I could see the look of almost foreboding on each of our students faces as we tackled the brambles and forged our way into even thicker jungle. Eventually, however, we got on top of the task and worked relentlessly to clear vast areas ready for the construction of its wood bark pathways, hurdle fences, benches, and kestrel boxes.

“Once this was complete, we then began to restore the woodland to its natural fauna and into a habitat fit for wildlife and people alike. As each day goes by, we all become more and more enthusiastic about the next phase and we are all incredibly proud of our achievements.”

Helping the project's success was the recent success of a SEND team member who was awarded a cash prize for becoming a staff member of the week back in February.

Rather than spending the money himself, he donated it to the students to buy an outdoor, night vision trail camera that can be used to capture videos and images of wildlife.

During its first mission in the newly created paradise, the digital camera recorded 201 pieces of wildlife footage including badgers, foxes, rabbits, wild pheasants and wood voles.

Introduction to Work student Jack is just one of over 30 young people who have taken part in the novel advanced conservation project.

Jack was incredibly enthusiastic in becoming a member of the team and he said: “I love watching things take shape and this experience has given me so much confidence as well as a greater appreciation of the environment as the nature trail has developed. It's been a wonderful experience.”

The college said it wants to thank id verde, the grounds maintenance services company who have the contract with Bromley Council to maintain its parks and open green spaces throughout the borough for its effort in helping out.

And also to Dan from Eagle Tree Care for the valuable help advice and donation of materials for the project.

For more information about the College's SEND provision at its Nido Volans centres visit

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