Schools SOS bird hide enhances wild garden

Bicester Advertiser: Ann Battersby and pupils at the school's bird hide Ann Battersby and pupils at the school's bird hide

DO you need a makeover for your school nature garden or a revamp for a neglected area of the school?

Now is your chance as the Oxford Mail has teamed up with Abingdon construction company Leadbitter for the fourth year running for our Save Our Schools competition.

One lucky school will win £7,500 of improvements which could be anything from new toilets to an outdoor classroom.

Leadbitter regional director Cliff Thomas said: “Budgets are very tight through the education sector.

“Everybody has had to cut down, so now is the opportunity to get something for nowt.

“All that is needed is a little bit of work at the front end, and the ability to engage with other parts of the community.”

The first winner of the SOS contest in 2009 was North Kidlington Primary School, which received a bird hide for its wild garden.

After the school was shortlisted as a finalist, children, staff and supporters collected more than 19,300 vouchers to be declared winners.

Headteacher Ann Battersby said: “It was wonderful to win.

“The excitement for the community was fantastic and it really inspired people to work together.”

Since it was built, the hide has been used for everything from birdwatching to science projects and art.

Mrs Battersby said: “It has really enhanced the whole wild garden and is an integral part of it.”

She urged other schools to apply for this year’s competition and said: “If you win, you then end up with a substantial project for your school which schools at the moment cannot afford.

“There’s not a lot of expendable income around.

“It’s also about pulling the community together – we had people from all over the county sending vouchers to us.”

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Schools have until Thursday, June 14, to enter the competition.

Entries should explain the project in at least 300 words, including drawings, photographs and statements and describing how the project will benefit pupils and the wider community.

Schemes must not require planning permission or major structural changes, with the £7,500 budget covering materials and labour.

Once the deadline for entries has passed, a panel of judges from the Oxford Mail and Leadbitter will choose 10 finalists.

Each of the shortlisted schemes will be showcased in the Mail, with vouchers printed alongside each story.

Then it’s over to the schools to galvanise support by collecting as many tokens as possible.

They will be mathematically weighted according to the number of pupils at each school to make it fair for schools of different sizes.

The winner will be announced in July and the work carried out during the summer holiday.

Send applications to the Oxford Mail, Osney Mead, Oxford, OX2 0EJ.

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