Five-Minute Marvels: The wand-erful Lea School Willow Arch

School Improvement Primary England
16 July 2020
When their local sustainability festival was cancelled due to the pandemic, the Lea School Association got their thinking caps on to keep the kids and community green.

Who are they?

The 200-strong Lea Primary School and Nursery in Harpenden, Hertfordshire, and their brilliant PTA, vice chaired by Katy Hamilton. She says, There is a push towards sustainability in the St Albans and Harpenden areas which we’re keen to join in with and promote to The Lea community”.

What did they do?

After the pandemic forced the St Albans Sustainability Festival to postpone, the Lea School Association wanted to create an alternative project for the community. The team purchased willow wand saplings from Water Willows to distribute around the school community. 110 wands were sold, which could either be collected, or delivered — if families were self-isolating, and the team asked for the willow wands to be returned to school when the roots had grown. It’s important for the saplings to be kept well-watered, so this became a great task for the keyworker children who were regularly in school. Having a team of people really helps with all the different parts of the project, such as delivering the saplings.”

If you’re growing the saplings inside, use a clear vase or jar so that children can watch the roots grow – incorporate learning!”

What inspired them?

When globetrotting mum Helen Carter visited the UN in Kenya, she was inspired by a tree-planting project. The focus was on how one tree and one person can make a difference,” says Katy. She thought this is something we can bring back to school’, so approached the PTA with her plan.”

How did it go?

The beauty of this experience, Katy tells us, is that, you don’t have to be a specialist; anyone can be involved. You don’t need a garden to take part – they can be grown in vases or jam jars on a windowsill.” She reports, This has been really successful and the saplings will grow into an arch to welcome everyone into our outdoor classroom.” 

With thanks to Katy Hamilton and Helen Carter of the Lea School Association.