Balfour Beatty VINCI volunteers create Forest School in Birmingham

A team of volunteers from Balfour Beatty VINCI creates a new Forest School at a Birmingham primary school.

Children at a Birmingham primary school have spent the autumn term learning how to cook on an open fire safely and use tools in a new educational Forest School, thanks to a team of volunteers.

The volunteers from HS2’s main works contractor Balfour Beatty VINCI (BBV) completed the new educational setting at Paget Primary School, which encourages children to learn and develop through play, activities and exploration in an outdoor environment.

Over four days, the volunteers levelled the area and laid tree bark, before installing tables, chairs, a fire pit, a 1,000-litre water butt, two mud kitchens, a bug hotel, bird tables, bird boxes, and an area to practise country fence weaving. They also installed a stretch tent, laid a concrete path for wheelchair access from the Forest School to the main school building, and installed a 50m garden hose.

Lucy Holmes, Forest School lead at Paget Primary School, said: “Paget Primary School would like to say a huge thank you to all involved. Forest School is a fantastic way of helping children learn in a hands-on experience. In Forest School, we learn the importance of looking after nature and exploring the forest area, which helps the children’s confidence, self-esteem, independence and communication.

“The children will learn how to use different tools, light fires and cook on an open fire safely. It’s important to explore the natural environment around us and learn from it. The children learn to problem solve and manage risk.

“Since starting the sessions, it’s amazing to see the difference in the children and I’m very lucky as I get to teach them in class and see the benefits Forest School has on our children. We love the outdoors and thanks to the generosity of all involved, this has made sure we can access our site all year round.”

BBV donated timber, the stretch tent and other materials needed to create the new area. Their supply chain companies also stepped in to help, with SIG plc donating £3,000 of hand tools including shovels, spades and plastic utensils for pupils to use, and Murphy donating 30 tonnes of bark chippings for the Forest School floor.

Stephen Quinn, works manager at Balfour Beatty VINCI, leads the team helping to deliver the Bromford Tunnel Intermediate Shaft, said: “As HS2’s construction partner for the West Midlands, our responsibility extends beyond delivering 90km of railway.

“We’re passionate about supporting local communities too, making sure they benefit from the work that’s going on around them. That’s why I’m so proud of the work we’ve done recently to support Paget Primary School, which is just on our doorstep. 

“It’s incredibly rewarding for my team and me to know that children for years to come will be able to learn and develop in this wonderful outdoor environment.”

BBV is constructing 90km of railway between Long Itchington in Warwickshire to the centre of Birmingham and on to Staffordshire.

A team of 450 people is currently building the 3.5-mile Bromford Tunnel which will take high speed trains from Warwickshire into Birmingham as they approach Curzon Street Station in the heart of the city. Around 9,750 people in the West Midlands are currently working on the HS2 project.

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