Building gardens teaches 10,000 children about construction careers

Eleven Worcestershire schools competed for the tenth time the week of (May 5-8th) building sustainable, recyclable gardens at the Malvern Spring Festival.

The competition, which involves over 1500 pupils in total, is the brainchild of Phi Eves, who specialises in creating out of the classroom learning experiences for teachers. Phil’s time is given free of charge to the schools by BAM Construction which also gives out prizes to the best which are presented by Alan Tichmarsh.

Phil said:

“My job is to make construction a learning experience. By challenging the schools to create gardens, we involve them with a theme – this year it is Shakespeare so that aids literacy as they study and research it.”

“Then they have to create a design, plan a build programme, grow plants, do woodwork, art and crafts, and then come along and build, decorate and paint it. There’s even some brickwork, and of course, health and safety.”

“It really brings out a fantastic creativity and every single pupil in the schools has a hand in the process. I have the pleasure of seeing them inspired and many have gone on to study construction related degrees and HNDs.”

Eardisley’s Church of England Primary School’s head teacher Bridget Knight said that every one of the 100 pupils in the school has been involved in some way.

“We’ve adopted four of Shakespeare’s plays to represent in the garden, and performed two for parents. There are 106 different plants referred to in his plays – the children have grown each one. Even wolf-bane and aconite the poisoned ones, out of reach of course!

“We held a ‘forensic day’ at school to examine the kind of crime scenes Shakespeare created, using real crime scene tape.”

“Around 60 of the pupils will visit us here on site to help paint and construct it. There will be a full sized coffin in our Hamlet area, a church, gravestones and a cauldron for Macbeth. We’re also representing Romeo and Juliet and a Midsummer Night’s Dream, each with its own habitats.

“The pupils love it so much they don’t want to go home.”

Over the ten years since Phil instigated the event, he says over 100 schools and 10,000 pupils have been involved together with hundreds of volunteers. At this year’s show BAM’s gardens will be seen by their one millionth visitor.