New future for abandoned Meadway woodlandWritten by Nick Jones Monday, 12 October 2015 11:21
The centre provides teaching and support for children who cannot cope with mainstream education, or who have been permanently excluded from schools across the London Borough of Barnet.
Parents and neighbours have already removed piles of rubbish, old metal-work, broken chairs and other discarded items from the woodland. The next step is to clear undergrowth, and bring in a tree surgeon to help tackle overhanging branches.
Lesley Graham, a teacher at the centre and project manager for the woodland clearance, has launched an appeal for volunteers and for donations towards the cost of the work.
“When the Pavilion centre moved to Meadway two years ago, the woodland was abandoned; it was overgrown and impenetrable. Now that we have cleared out much of the dumped rubbish we can begin to see how it would be possible to open up a quiet area for the pupils.
“Ideally we would like to create an outdoor classroom where young people who might feel agitated can sit outside and get close to nature. We are raising money for the cost of laying out paths, a seating area, and some proper log seats.”
The first event was a cheese and wine evening where parents and friends were joined by nearby residents, who have welcomed the project to restore the woodland.
Pupils at the centre are doing their bit for the fund-raising by preparing for a stall at the Barnet Christmas Fayre on Sunday 6 December. “We will be making Christmas biscuits, Christmas stockings and decorations and seasonal gifts,” said Ms Graham.
We are delighted to be able to offer our young people an opportunity to turn the woodland into a place they can enjoy
The Pavilion centre has a daily attendance of around 30 pupils aged from 11 to 14, including children with emotional and behavioural difficulties, and children who have been permanently excluded, or are perhaps on respite from mainstream schooling.
Older pupils attend another study centre at Whetstone.
Head teacher Mrs Joanne Kelly said some of the pupils lived in crowded conditions and had no experience of a garden, let alone a woodland environment.
“We are delighted to be able to offer our young people an opportunity to turn the woodland into a place they can enjoy, and it is an opportunity to teach woodland crafts.”
Ms Graham believed the importance of the project was that it helped connect the neighbourhood to the work being done at the centre.
“We are looking after some of the most vulnerable children in the Barnet area, and for children who cannot manage mainstream schooling, we do provide an opportunity to transform their lives.
“It is wonderful when we see a 16-year-old student leave us, able to go to college after previously suffering from anxiety and other problems. When that happens we all feel a real sense of achievement.
“We hope that by transforming our neglected woodland into an outdoor classroom we can provide another enriching opportunity for pupils who cannot manage a full-time programme of academic subjects.”
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