New community garden for Ox Close school

A fire-breathing ox, a beast with musical ribs and a magic listening post all came to life when a County Durham school celebrated the official opening of its new community garden.

Fire-breathing Ox takes centre stage
Fire-breathing Ox takes centre stage

Half an acre of former scrubland has been transformed into a wildlife haven and education adventure land for the pupils of Ox Close Primary School at Spennymoor.

The opening, titled “Spennymoor Ox – With Ox Tales Old and New” told the story of the land’s transformation and brings the town’s industrial history to life.

Guests will included two former pupils, celebrated artists Chris and Steve Rocks. It’s hoped the twins’ paintings and success in creative industries will inspire today’s children.

Listen to Chris and Steve

[audio:|titles=Former pupils Chris and Steve]

“We’ve all heard of thinking outside the box… this is education outside the box,” said Head Teacher Michelle Forbes. “The garden is all about creative outdoor learning, bringing ideas to life, conservation, caring for the environment, storytelling, our community, raising aspirations and much more.”

The three year development of the garden has been in partnership with a wide range of community groups and local businesses and has attracted support, materials and funding in excess of £100,000.

The garden’s centrepiece is a large timber cabin overlooking a pond teaming with wildlife and replica ducks decorated by the children. Other features include a beech circle, mini beast zone, bird, bat and bee boxes, a bird hide and growing beds for the children and local residents. The school’s crop of strawberries will be made into jam and sold commercially.

The opening took place on Friday, 17th September. Staff, creative practitioners and pupils will be available throughout the morning for interview and pictures. The event has been co-ordinated by John Fox and Sue Gill from Dead Good Guides, and has been supported by Durham and Sunderland Creative Partnerships.

Before the event, Mrs Forbes explained “It’s a true celebration of the heritage of the school and town and a new approach to the way we are educating children to prepare for the challenges they will face in years to come.”

Listen to Head Teacher Michelle Forbes

[audio:|titles=Ox Close Head Teacher, Mrs Forbes]

Listen to Cllr Kevin Thompson

[audio:|titles=Cllr Kevin Thompson]

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