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Self help keeps school's green room out of red

PUBLISHED: 15:44 27 March 2008 | UPDATED: 14:53 07 September 2010

SHOVEL-wielding parents have helped to give pupils at a Highgate primary a greener future. Children at St Michael s primary on North Road can now get hands-on when they learn about the environment in the school s new Crowcroft Green Room

Ben McPartland

SHOVEL-wielding parents have helped to give pupils at a Highgate primary a greener future.

Children at St Michael's primary on North Road can now get hands-on when they learn about the environment in the school's new Crowcroft Green Room.

The education area was built thanks to the work of St Michael's Parent Teacher Association who not only raised thousands of pounds to fund it but also got their hands mucky by helping to build it.

Last Thursday Highgate actors Juliet Stevenson and Bill Paterson opened the facility, which is claimed to be the first 'carbon positive' education room in the country.

Parent Kate Waine said it has taken around two years of hard work to raise the cash.

"It took a lot of fun runs, cake sales and fairs to raise the rest of the money. I think we have one of the most active PTAs in the country. The feeling is that at voluntary aided schools like ours most parents recognise if we want to get what we want for our kids then we will have to put a bit of work into it and help pay for it.

"Expectations here are quite high and parents are prepared to do the work that goes along with these projects."

The room is named after the Crowcroft family whose son, an ex-pupil of St Michael's, tragically died. The family gave a generous donation of £10,000 to the cause.

The Crowcroft Green Room, which cannot officially be called a classroom because of planning rules, has been designed to be as energy efficient as possible.

The walls and roof are insulated and have been made from sustainable cedar. Its pavilion will be linked to a bank of solar panels.

Planners expect it will make a strong contribution to the school's energy use and will in fact feed power back into the national grid, making the project carbon positive.

Ms Waine said: "We were lucky enough to have beautiful grounds, which is rare for an inner London school. We all felt there was so much more we could get from the grounds to help educate the children.

"The land was not really being used properly. As part of their education they will come into the room to learn about crop rotation and plants. They will grow vegetables and hopefully end up selling them."

Once the idea was conceived, it was another matter making the Green Room a reality because of the costs involved. So the parents rolled up their sleeves, pulled on their boots and gave up their Saturdays to lug wheelbarrows full of soil and rocks around.

"This was the only way we were able to afford it," said Ms Waine. "We could never have given the plans to a building contractor because we would never have been able to raise that much money."

ben.mcpartland@hamhigh.co.uk

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