Primary School children lead a national campaign for pollinators and win a national award.

by Julie Newman and Mary Jackson

9th March 2018
Pollinator Promise asks gardeners to dedicate a square metre plot (or a pot if you have limited space) to grow plants that provide food and shelter for our hungry and homeless insects.  The school children have been supported by Open Air Laboratories (OPAL) in developing a web page where everyone can take part in making a promise to save declining pollinators.

left: Reception class pollinator tub at St Alban’s School

Pollinator Promise Campaign

Children at St Alban's Church of England Primary School in Hampshire have become national leaders in helping pollinators through community action.  Their “Pollinator Promise” is spreading the message that all gardens can play a role in helping diminishing pollinating insects, such as bees and butterflies, with just one small change.

As part of its involvement in the Heritage Lottery ‘Polli:Nation’ project, St Alban’s students developed their school grounds to improve forage and shelter habitat for pollinators. Through the Pollinator Promise campaign, the school has taken the message of the importance of pollinators into the community and are now asking everyone  to join in and bring more colour to their local gardens, businesses and open spaces.

As Laura, a pupil at the school says:

‘Pollinators are threatened by habitat loss and agricultural practices and St Alban’s decided to do something about it. As a school we have developed Pollinator Promise but it’s not just for our school but for everyone. We encourage the community to get involved and work together to make a difference.’

Once you have made your Pollinator Promise, you can share your pledge and photos using the hashtags:  #PolliPromise    #OPALmillion

Be part of the Pollinator Promise campaign to spread the message of the importance of pollinators and the need to protect them.

Click on the logo to promise!
Encourage others to join you because if enough people make a small difference, great changes will follow. As the Saint Alban’s school campaigners say:

“Metre by metre, let people know
Metre by metre, let pollinators grow!
Join in to save our threatened wildlife with Pollinator Promise!”

Pollinator Promise Campaign contributed  to a national award

Pollinator Promise helped St Alban’s CE Primary School win a Bees’ Needs Champions Award, presented in November at Kew Gardens by DEFRA Minister Lord Gardiner (above)

The award was given for pollinator action in their grounds and the local community. A grant from Polli:Nation helped them to sow and plant wildflowers and bee friendly borders, install a large bee wall and plant up pollinator friendly plants in the local Hermitage Open Space.

The School's bee-friendly border

They have been helped with these projects by many dedicated volunteers from the school and local community and supported through their links with the Royal Horticultural Society.
Dr Andrew Salisbury, Principal Entomologist at the RHS said:

‘Gardening, especially wildlife gardening not only benefits wildlife but improves health and wellbeing and can improve whole communities. Engaging the young is key to these benefits and the work at St Alban’s is an outstanding example of what can be achieved, congratulations to all involved.’ 
The Saint Alban’s pupils were praised for their campaigning in the local community. The Pollinator Promise movement asks people to dedicate a one by one metre plot to grow plants that provide food and shelter for bees and pollinating insects. Their aim is to persuade the community to make a small change that can have a big impact for pollinators. In order to support people with their pledge, seeds harvested from the school grounds and plants grown by the children have been given to those making a promise. Everyone who signs up is also encouraged to send in photos of their developing plot to in order to inspire others to make a change.

So far, pupils, parents, neighbours, churches and biopharmaceutical company Pfizer (which has an office close to the school) have made a Pollinator Promise. The campaign is also spreading to secondary schools as students at The Petersfield School (part of the Polli:Nation cluster) are also in the process of developing their own version of the campaign. The Open Air Laboratories (OPAL) have supported Saint Alban’s in spreading the Pollinator Promise message. Dr Poppy Lakeman Fraser, OPAL Senior Coordinator said:

'The Pollinator Promise is a shining example of how students and teachers, indeed we all, can have a huge impact on our local green patches. OPAL have supported many citizen science activities which have collected useful environmental information but the work at St Alban’s School has taken things to the next level, by devising a campaign which not only raises awareness about the plight of pollinators but also encourages others to make habitat changes to protect the insects that support food production.’

The Polli:Nation Project at Saint Alban’s has been led by Julie Newman, the Trailblazer (outdoor learning) coordinator and has involved staff and pupils from the whole school. Many of the pupils have come together to form The Hive, which leads and carries out improvements for pollinators. Hive pupils said:

“In Hive, we all work as a team, helping pollinators and trying to make the world a better place. Bees aren’t just buzzy things - without them we wouldn’t have most of our fruit and vegetables. Together, we learn to sow seeds and find out about which plants are best for pollinators. We want people to join us and help give bees a fighting chance.”

Nicola Hordell, Headteacher at St Alban’s Primary said:

'I am delighted that children at St Alban's have been able to show that it really is possible for them to make a positive difference in God's world.  It is inspirational to the whole school community to see that we can improve the world around us.’

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