Head of Finance and Operations

Horticulture news - Anna Robertson+

This school year at Abbots Lea has seen a lot of exciting projects aimed towards improving the grounds for our students. I started in my role as Horticulture and Grounds Maintenance Apprentice in Summer 2021 with the goal to do as much as I can to help our students connect with nature and the outdoors. I’ve really enjoyed hearing from students about what they like or dislike about the grounds and getting to see how they use the outdoor space on a daily basis. Our students are full of fantastic, creative ideas and insightful feedback that drives the progress of my daily work.

One of the biggest projects I’ve undertaken recently is the renovation of our growing space: in the heart of our Outdoor Learning Area sits the disused frame of an enormous polytunnel. Work is now underway to clear the ground and re-cover the tunnel, providing a whole new outdoor learning space and giving students the opportunity to experience growing their own food and flowers year-round. Returning the polytunnel to its former glory will be a big task, but the rewards will be more than worth it.

Although it may be a small change in the grand scheme of things, one of the most popular additions to the grounds has been the new pathways carved through our little woodland area. Students and staff alike really enjoy having access to the wilder parts of the woodland.

Towards the end of last year we were lucky enough to receive a delivery of saplings from the Woodland Trust which some students from Key Stage 5 helped to plant. The students showed great teamwork and creative problem solving performing this task and it sparked some wonderfully inquisitive conversation (“Do trees have genders?”  ”What makes a tree native?”  ”When will this tree get taller than me?”).  I’m happy to report that the baby trees are doing well! Though it will still be a while before they’re taller than anyone in KS5.

There are countless more projects I could list, both currently underway and planned for the future, but I’ll sign off here by saying it’s a pleasure to spend my days working to make the most of our outdoor spaces. Ideas and feedback from our students are always welcome! Even when it’s just “Miss, you’ve got twigs in your hair”.

Playground Updates+

Our new playground is almost there. We have had a few delays due to the illness of contractors and issues around materials, however, the contractors have continued to push through and we are very hopeful that early next week we should be good to go.

We never plan any major works during term time, however, we either made the choice to halt the work when students returned to school or continue until the finish. To not continue would have actually created a potential risk for longer so the decision was made to get it finished, have a clear risk assessment, ensure all aspects of safety were taken into account, and regularly monitor and check the area.

The students have been amazing during this time. We have had no issues with regards to accessing the area, more an interesting curiosity about who the contractors are, what is being made, and when can they finally use it.

And a big thank you to our new Facilities Manager, Ian Westall, who has been on top of the project, managed any issues quickly and effectively, and ensured the safety of the area throughout.

Hopefully this time next week I will be sharing with you the finished playground.

Summer works+

We have had another busy summer and I would like to give huge thanks to all the Abbot’s Lea staff who worked over the summer and helped us achieve all our tasks on time. Everyone helped out with anything and everything that was asked of them, an absolutely amazing team effort. We had so much going on which included:

  • Replacement of the gas pipes across the school site
  • Upgrade of radiators and covers in 12 classrooms.
  • Replacement of thermostats and one of our boilers
  • Additional id badge door access across the site to improve security
  • Additional cameras across the site (including the car park) to improve security
  • Replacement of flooring where needed.
  • New storage created in Early Years and Therapy block
  • New office space created to accommodate new staff
  • Refresh of paint work across the site
  • Replacement of fencing and gates were necessary
  • Improved resources for the school kitchen
  • New student spaces created
  • Many other smaller tasks across the site to make the school as ready as possible for when staff and students returned

In addition, we will have 3 of our quiet rooms being  upgraded over the forthcoming months, new perimeter fencing installed (awaiting planning permission), and an additional log cabin area created to maximise use of space on the site for the students.

We also have other outdoor projects on the go, as we continue our drive to make the school the best it can be.

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