Schools and pollinator case studies


Find inspiration from our 260 schools. See how – over three years – they have transformed spaces in their schools, access to outdoor learning and improved pupil engagement.

Making changes

Explore the variety of grounds changes that took place across our schools; from bee hives to working only on concrete, wildflower meadows to feeding the school. They’re full of great inspiration to model your own grounds development.

Ambassadors and activists

Further down you can read about our exemplary ambassadors and activists. Read about the pupils running a national campaign of their own, others taking measures to protect the rare Long-horned bee and much more.

In depth case studies

Find out more about how some of our schools and partners have achieved their successes. We’ve taken a closer look at Don’t Mow let it Grow, working with community groups, curriculum links and the John Muir award.

Cambridge House, Northern Ireland

Don’t Mow, Let it Grow

The simplest things can have the biggest impact for your pollinator populations.  Selecting an area of grassland in your grounds – be it borders around your field or a larger space unused for sports – you can increase diversity, learning opportunities and perhaps find something very special.

Cambridge House selected a space that appeared to have a variety of non grass species ready to emerge, if only the space was left to grow.  In the first year, over 35 species emerged: including 60 rare orchids.  Importantly, they communicated with maintenance staff and the public about what they were doing.  Read the full case study at the bottom of the page.

Calveley Primary, Cheshire

Bee keeping and planting for pollinators

Calveley Primary in Cheshire used Polli:Nation project funding and support to train staff as bee keepers and establish bee hives next to their school grounds.  Using links with the local college, wooden enclosures were built.  They created a fantastic mixed growing area with space for vegetables and using plug plants to ensure a wide variety of pollinator friendly plants.

Callander Primary, Scotland

Sustainable growing spaces and low maintenance borders

Callander Primary created a variety of plans with pupils; a great way to gain their interest, involvement and engagement.  They developed spacious, all weather beds for growing and planted perennials to create colourful borders.

Ffaldau Primary, Wales

Working with only tarmac

Ffaldau Primary, like many small primary schools, has only a very small concrete play area with no access to grass or natural spaces.  Through developing their space with their pupils, they have created a vibrant quiet area, full of flowers and possibilities for learning.

The project also inspired them to begin working on a community garden space close to school to give pupils an opportunity to be closer to the earth.

The Mead Schools, Trowbridge

Feeding a school, one step at a time

The Mead Schools have been embedding outdoor learning into curriculum work and their school ethos for numerous years.  They are fortunate to have  a very experienced member of staff in outdoor learning and growing, supportive senior management and  some excellent parent volunteers.

The Mead Schools commitment to outdoor learning means that all pupils have wellies and outdoor work is part of all pupils’ weekly routine.

Pupils share their work outdoors once a month in assemblies. They use this time to introduce plant of the month as well as presenting their work to different classes throughout the school.  They have successfully and sustainably developed a large allotment site and poly tunnel with food produce being cooked in their school canteen.

Pupils went to Westminster to campaign to MPs about the plight of pollinators as well as holding their own bee-art fundraiser.

Importantly, each of the schools recognised they were starting at different places, mapping their grounds and planning their new developments and what they could achieve accordingly.

Ambassadors and activists

The following schools were exemplary at promoting their work and the pollination message, reaching a huge variety of people; from MPs to the wider public, land owners to decision makers.

Trythall Community School, Penwith

Trythall Community School have a pupil led approach throughout their school work.  Pupils researched, surveyed and explored their own grounds for pollinators. They found a solitary bee that was locally and nationally important – the Long-horned bee, which had seen a 75% decline in the last decade with only six remaining nesting sites left in Penwith.

They began working with a local ecologist at Kernow Ecology to find out more.  Primary school pupils delivered a call to action to local landowners, governors, community projects and parents: Peas for Bees was formed.  They organised a visit from their local MP, supported by the Womens Institute; their banners, passion and knowledge surely made an impact.

They are planting thousands of plants for the Long-horned bee and are working with at least three local landowners. They are also sharing their message with local schools and the  Wheal Buzzy project to continue their work.

The 60 pupils that attend this school have driven this forward – they have won two awards from DEFRA as Bees’ Needs Champions and received special mention from Lord Gardiner, Chair of the all party pollinator group, for their work.

If 60 pupils can be so proactive – so can you!

St Albans CofE Primary, Hampshire

 

St Albans have been one of our flagship schools, with a culture of pupil led activities and engagement with outdoor learning.  They won two Bees Needs Champion Awards from DEFRA, have a Pollination Promise supported by OPAL and pupils have taken part in local radio and news. They regularly take their Pollinator Promise into the community – see their school blog here.

This was achieved through the following considerations:

Teachers embedded their Polli:Nation project  into their termly planning.

Polli:Nation Ambassadors shared their learning, updates and achievements across the school community.

The SuperHive gave pupils a voice and linked with the school council and gardening clubs, ensuring a pupil voice led this real world project.

The extra effort to promote their work through badges, posters and campaigning allowed them to recruit volunteers from the community to support bigger changes in school. A former pupil designed new border spaces,  links to the local secondary school and sixth form provided further promotional support for pupils and the project.

They also linked their work to the RHS award scheme and other local partners.

The pupil promise has 439 individuals signed up (at the time of writing) – an incredible achievement from a pupil led initiative!

cambridge house
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Want to know more?

Our case studies from schools across the UK all share what they have learnt about making their Polli:Nation project work.  If you are about to start your own outdoor development or pollinator project, read on to avoid common mistakes and learn how to be successful (and deal with failures!).

Don’t Mow Let it Grow:

What can happen if you stop mowing the grass? For Cambridge House, some of Northern Ireland’s rarest Orchids showed up along with more than 35 new species of meadow flower.

Information on maintaining your long grass or meadow space can be found here.

Building partnerships with local community groups:

This case study demonstrates the positive impact of working alongside local groups and partners; for your pupils and for your grounds development.

Pollinators and wider learning links:

This case study summarises how St Albans CofE Primary approached their Polli:Nation project.  Highlighting the links they made to maths, art, science and computing with able learners as well as staff, parents, pupils and volunteer engagement.

John Muir and real world learning:

This case study summarises how the John Muir Award has been used by schools and communities to support pollinators, facilitating pupils to work on real world projects.

Machanhill PS meadow planting (5)
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Machanhill PS pollinator (2)