Stage 2 Where would we like to be?/ Vision Statement
At this stage in the process of change, you need to ask ‘what would we like to be able to do in our grounds?’ alongside ‘how can we best help pollinators in our locality’ and not ‘what would we like to be able to have?’
Answering this question will involve thinking about:
Use- how you want to use your grounds
Design – how the layout and features in your grounds can support their use
Management – how through management policies and practices you can support the use and development of your grounds.
Focusing on what experiences you want your pupils to have in your school grounds alongside how you could best support local pollinator populations will help you avoid wasting money on changes or installations that don’t really meet your needs, or prove impractical or inflexible. You may already have plenty of ideas, but don’t know how to go about making the changes. There are a variety of ways in which you can gather the thoughts, ideas and feelings of your pupils and staff, including preparing simple questionnaires, making models of your site (‘Creating Models’ link) and holding discussions and debates (‘Discussion techniques’link). Through this process you will also identify issues and barriers. Make a note of them – you will have an opportunity to address them later in the process of change.
Aside from improving pollinator biodiversity you will also want to consider more general outcomes, such as helping to improve:
- concentration in lessons
- pupils’ sense of responsibility
- general contentment
- opportunities to engage every child with learning
- attendance rates
- opportunities for pupils to make a difference to the school
- opportunities for parents to get involved
Once you have contributions from everyone you will want to put all the ideas into order. Voting activities are an effective way of getting feedback on ideas and suggestions.
It is then useful to develop the collective ideas into a vision statement. This will help ensure everyone in the school community is heading in the same direction. For example your statement may describe the type of experiences you want your children to have but also refer to the habitat you wish to create and the biodiversity you aim to encourage.
There are different ways of writing a vision statement. You could, for example:
Get those leading your project to add key words, phrases or ideas to a ‘vision words’ board and use these words and phrases to feed into the creation of a vision statement for your school grounds project.
Provide participants with a starting point for a vision statement to a help get them started. Starting points might be:
- our school grounds will be…
- pupils using our grounds will….
- wildlife using our grounds will…
- everyone who visits our grounds will…
Your final vision statement should be available to everyone involved in the project so post it on your website, use it for funding applications but most of all make sure everyone working on the project has access to a copy. This will help keep your project on track and motivate everyone involved.
Having developed your vision statement, you can start to think about how your school grounds will look and feel, and what features and resources it will contain. Even though at this stage you might only have the funds to change a small area of your grounds, a whole site approach – focusing on the overall structure right from the start – will enable you to make changes that work together in the future.
A useful first step is to create a zoning plan. Some of the activities that you want to take place within the grounds will conflict – for example, quiet areas do not live happily next to the football pitch! A zoning plan is an outline plan of your grounds, divided up roughly to show how different activities could take place in different areas. You don’t need to be artistic to do this – and it is a good opportunity to get everyone thinking about the implications of change. You’ll need to consider:
locations for the activities you wish to take place in your grounds.
how the inside and external spaces work together. What is access like to the outside and can this be changed? Could working or playing outside impact on what is happening inside? A space directly outside a classroom could be ideal for teaching outside but a shared courtyard space may mean that one class working outside might disturb others inside.
- how you can ensure movement around the site works successfully. Refer to previous work on desire-lines in Stage 1 Design. Pathways into and across the site will help to define how the space is divided up.
- shade and shelter – will there be places that become hot spots in the summer or cold, windy places in the winter?
- visibility across the site – will you be creating any blind spots and does this matter?
For more information see ‘Creating plans’ in our activity section.
Once you have identified the major zones and are happy with their relationship to each other and the school buildings, you can create a vision plan that will define your vision for the future of the school grounds. This is not a detailed plan and it may well continue to change overtime. But it will define the shape and sizes of the different spaces and existing or potential uses, users and possible improvements as well as indicating major features – for example large areas of planting, main routes through and access points. For more information see Creating plans’ in our activity section.
How, through management policies and practices, can you support where you would like to be in terms of the use and design of your grounds? Use the information you have collected so far to draw up a prioritised checklist of changes needed to policies, practices and attitudes. Reviewing your management policies and practices will help ensure that everyone with responsibility for resourcing or supervising learning and play in the school grounds understands the long term implications of physical changes. Who do you want to get involved in undertaking the overall management and everyday maintenance of your grounds? Do you want to involve pupils, parents and staff or do you want everything to be done by a contractor or caretaker/janitor? There may, for example, be a significant impact on the cost or complexity of caring for your grounds, and if you are keen to ensure your outdoor space is, within your capacity, low maintenance, you must carefully consider what the impact of your changes will be. To help you, when considering each change/development, think about:
Whatever changes you make to your grounds need to be sustainable and not cost more than you can afford, either in time or money. Make sure at this stage you consider the capacity you have to manage the different aspects of your grounds; whether you are hoping to make physical change or change to the way you are using your grounds.
All of the above constitutes the start of your ‘design brief’. You will be using this to communicate your plans to all users of your grounds, and later to measure your success against it. It will also, if you decide you need professional support, help external professionals – landscape architects and designers understand your requirements. for more information please see‘Developing the design brief’ in our activity section.