SEEN (the Sustainable Environmental Education Network) is an initiative which provides children and young people with real opportunities to voice their opinions on impending change within their local neighbourhoods. Targeted at schools, it involves students in topical planning, design and regeneration projects, providing them with excellent first hand learning experiences and creative, hands-on activities. The initiative is being promoted by a core group of West Cheshire Fellows and benefits from a small grant provided by the RSA.
In the latest SEEN project, Year 5 pupils from Leighton Academy in Crewe, considered what facilities they would like to see included in a new country park for Leighton, for the benefit of people of all ages. Students were invited to participate by Tweed, Nuttall, Warburton Architects, who were responsible for developing a design brief for the local authority.
As part of their research, pupils investigated the local geography near their school, discovered what is offered at nearby Marbury and Brereton country parks, worked with an artist to create unique art pieces, and discussed their emerging thoughts and ideas with a diverse group of environmental specialists at a ‘Trade Fair’ event. This was a great opportunity for Fellows and prospective Fellow to get more involved in the work of the RSA.
The Trade Fair gave pupils a genuine insight into the people and processes involved in open space development as well as the challenges and conflicts that often arise. The project culminated with an imaginative and informative pupil presentation to an audience of parents and invited guests.
The proposed Country Park borders the Bentley Motor Company site. Bentley were enthusiastic supporters of the project and devoted considerable time and money to it. They also commissioned this film:
School work will now be used to help inform proposals that are being formulated for the area and pupils will be kept informed of developments as they arise. Feedback from teachers concluded that the project developed pupils’ core skills and helped the school develop relationships with the local community.