Early Years, Pre-Prep & Activities Block
In 2016 we put the jewel in our Eco crown with the building of our new classroom block named “GREENWOOD” to commemorate in one stroke our passionate allegiance to supporting our natural environment and the 400th anniversary of our greatest playwright, William Shakespeare.
The Greenwood, set as it is amid established oaks, sycamores, cedars, hollies, maritime and Scots pines, chestnuts and beeches, is a huge and beautiful tree house for learning, and loving to learn. With its elegant butterfly roof, designed by award-winning Dorset based architect, Adam Covell of ECA, this innovative structure has risen on 54 posts and a lightweight, elevated steel frame deck to float amid the school’s surrounding woodland. In fact, the playdeck has been built encircling a huge, flourishing English oak. It has been thrilling for the whole school community to see this extraordinary structure arise above the muddy clay puddles of winter. It will be equally thrilling now to embrace the project as a foundation for learning.
- Co-ed provision for 2 to 5 year olds
- Nursery to Reception
- 6 classrooms and open-plan hall
- Outdoor play garden
- State of the art, eco-friendly building
An Eco-friendly build
The Greenwood, constructed by John Kennedy and his team from Kennedy’s Southern, incorporates the latest in sustainable materials and methods. The roof design promotes rainwater harvesting, and insulation throughout will ensure low energy consumption. The six airy classrooms and central hall will provide outstanding learning spaces for pupils under 7 during the day and for all ages for after-school and for holiday activities. Our children’s learning experience will be enhanced by sharing their space outdoors with woodpeckers, kestrels and a host of small birds; with small creatures from stag beetles to pipistrelle bats. In other words, the young residents of this extraordinary “tree house” will hear, see and feel their natural world. We want to encourage our young people to treasure the natural world rather than exploit it; to learn by proximity to the real thing rather than do no more than view it virtually on a screen.
ECA’s Adam and Martha Covell, have worked closely with Yarrells’ Directors, Yarrells Board and Headmaster, Andrew Roberts-Wray to forge solid links with the school’s educational goals. Says Director and retired headmistress, Natalie Covell, “We have worked together with the build team manager, John Kennedy, to ensure a valuable level of pupil accessibility to the site at appropriately safe points. We seek continually to include pupils and all our community in the growth of the project, for all to understand and grasp the ideals behind the build and to generate understanding and enthusiasm.”
Living and learning in the natural world
The Greenwood project will provide Yarrells pupils from 2 to 13 with a practical demonstration of sustainability and create a living resource for curricular learning most specifically in science, maths, geography, English, music, dance , drama, art and sport. All learning and enjoyment will be enhanced by the outdoor and indoor classrooms of The Greenwood.
A Green history
Yarrells’ dedication to learning and environmental studies has followed a clear thread through time starting from a wonderful biology teacher and senior mistress at the school. From the early 60’s, Miss Bogan was always surrounded by enthusiastic children, her dogs, cats, the famous Yarrells rabbits and a wealth of knowledge of the natural world. Mrs Covell picked up the thread when she designed the school’s woodpecker logo and green uniform and made provision to protect the natural environment of the estate. In 2000, we joined the Eco-school movement and subsequently held an Eco-Summit bringing delegates from state and independent schools all over Dorset. We are so proud of our Green environment! Two years ago, we developed a science corner next to the new shelter. Our pupils now have acres set out for practical curricular studies: a kitchen garden with greenhouses and beds for planting; an established pond, well stocked with frogs, newts, toads and smaller pond life; a wormery, sapling nursery and nearby, a giant Wellingtonia planted in Victorian times. Our next project will be the West Woods where we are clearing the woodland floor of invasive laurel and rhododendron in order to encourage new tree growth. We use the paths in the West Woods for cross-country and it’s Mr Lewis’ favourite place to set the children free to build wild shelters of branches and bracken.