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Pupils' garden skills assessed in contest
Pupils across Witney are nervously waiting to hear a panel of judges’ verdict on their school gardens.
Children at 10 primary and secondary schools in the town have entered Witney Town Council’s Schools in Bloom competition.
In March, the schools were each given £350 by the council to spend to create gardens full of ingenious designs, colour and scents.
A judging panel visited the schools last week to see the results. The winners will be announced in September.
The competition aims to promote environmental awareness and encourage children to help improve their surroundings.
Last year all 12 schools that entered received the top award, but St Mary’s Infant School in Church Green was named overall winner.
The entire school worked together to make flowerpots out of bottles, decorate fences and bring their tiny garden to life. Work on this year’s project started in March.
Headteacher Yvonne Kyriacou said: “It’s about getting the children involved and using our outdoor space to teach them about gardening.
“It makes it real for them and they can bring their real experience back into the classroom. The children have all been enjoying themselves.”
She said every pupil had taken part and, although she would not give away much, said the project involved lots of ingenious recycling ideas.
Among the judges were the council’s amenities manager Janine Howells and Witney Rotary Club members Francis Newenham and George Bennett.
This year the club has introduced a special Rotary Award, for the best hanging basket with Diamond Jubilee-themed planting.
Miss Howells said “We have witnessed some ingenious use of recycling, such as plastic bottle greenhouses, bug hotels and milk carton planters and effective use of small spaces where schools have had limited access to gardens, due to building work.
“The thing that stood out for all of us is the enjoyment had by staff and pupils involved.
“Many modern houses have little or no space to grow but children are learning ways of managing these small spaces in school and implementing some amazing solutions to growing things at home too.”
Councillor Sian Davies, another of the judges, added: “Of all the things I have done as a town councillor so far, this is the most enjoyable and worthwhile. It has been really lovely to see their enthusiasm and the ideas they have been coming up with.”