University ‘Ground Force’ transforms city primary school

28 Jan 2010 17:55:10.467


Sunflowers, sage and spiky-leaved bamboo are just some of the specimens planted by volunteers from The University of Nottingham in a makeover of a city primary school.

The team of around 20 staff and postgraduate students from the Graduate School have been working to transform a classroom and garden at Highbank Primary in Clifton.

They're the latest group to carry out a Team Challenge in collaboration with the University's Active Communities Department.

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The new vegetable and sensory garden will be a nice surprise for the 285 children at Highbank when they return to school in September. The volunteers also completely redecorated a Year 6 classroom. The school was built 52 years ago and, according to its headteacher, Steve Parry, is in desperate need of refurbishment.

He said: "The work of the volunteers has been invaluable! They have transformed bland and rundown areas of school into something special which the children, families and parents will love, in just one day! Projects like this help bring communities together and create environments which the children would not otherwise experience."

The challenge was the 15th organised by the University's Active Communities Department this year.

Project manager Jacqui Storey says: "Team Challenges provide an excellent opportunity for University staff and students to do something practical, outside their normal working environment whilst making a significant contribution to our local community. Many of the projects just wouldn't get done without the input of willing volunteers, many of whom go on to volunteer as individuals in their own time."

Head of the Graduate School, Tessa Payne, said: "The Team Challenge gives staff of the Graduate School and Postgraduate students an ideal opportunity to engage with and support the local community."

Among the volunteers were PhD maths student Caron Weston and Postgraduate Officer, James Sheard, who said the challenge was great fun and highly rewarding. The Graduate School said the makeover wouldn't have been possible without the following donations; JK Travel providing the minibus, Shaws who provided refreshments and Homebase who donated compost and discounted plants.

The children of Highbank Primary will get the chance to thank the volunteers when the gardens officially opened in early September.  

Active Communities is interested in hearing from community organisations with projects suitable for teams to work on in a day. 

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Notes to editors: The University of Nottingham is ranked in the UK's Top 10 and the World's Top 70 universities by the Shanghai Jiao Tong (SJTU) and Times Higher (THE) World University Rankings.

It provides innovative and top quality teaching, undertakes world-changing research, and attracts talented staff and students from 150 nations. Described by The Times as Britain's "only truly global university", it has invested continuously in award-winning campuses in the United Kingdom, China and Malaysia. Twice since 2003 its research and teaching academics have won Nobel Prizes. The University has won the Queen's Award for Enterprise in both 2006 (International Trade) and 2007 (Innovation - School of Pharmacy).

Its students are much in demand from 'blue-chip' employers. Winners of Students in Free Enterprise for four years in succession, and current holder of UK Graduate of the Year, they are accomplished artists, scientists, engineers, entrepreneurs, innovators and fundraisers. Nottingham graduates consistently excel in business, the media, the arts and sport. Undergraduate and postgraduate degree completion rates are amongst the highest in the United Kingdom.

Story credits


Emma Rayner - Media Relations Manager

Email: Phone: +44 (0)115 74 84413  Location: University Park

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