Dumpton School is situated in a rural setting of 26 acres and an integral part of the education they provide is the ongoing development of a love for the outdoors and all the benefits it brings; a heartfelt respect for nature and the responsibility to learn about, protect and repair the world we share. An understanding of the natural environment and the issues it faces is developed through our Geography, Science and Outdoor Education curriculum and as such, Environmental Responsibility & Sustainable Living (ERSL) underpins all we do. This is achieved through classroom-based learning from Nursery to Year 8 via programmes such as the Environment unit in Year 2, Planet Earth under Threat in Year 4 and the Common Entrance units on Climate Change, Sustainable Planning and Environmental Issues in Year 7 and 8.
The pupils are currently working towards their 5th consecutive Eco Schools Green Flag Award and Plastic Free Schools status. They also actively support Fair Trade Fortnight and Switch-Off Fortnight each year and locally, support Wimborne War on Waste with their Fair Trade and Spring Green initiatives. Pupils have also won the South West of England Environmental Youth Award 2018. In recent years, 100 sapling trees have been planted around the school grounds to preserve the natural environment. The allotments have been developed and are thriving and bird boxes and bat boxes have been installed.
The newly introduced dedicated Outdoor Education programme is based at the school campsite and the curriculum covers a diverse range of outdoor learning from practical hands-on nature reserve management, animal and plant identification, bushcraft, using hand tools, fire lighting and wild food prep and cooking, sustainable organic farming and animal husbandry.
Woodland areas are used for bird spotting, animal tracking, tree identification and camouflage lessons inspired by the deer. Trail cameras are used to catch a glimpse of the night time activities of badgers, deer and foxes. The reintroduction of the traditional practice of coppicing the hazel and willow woodland provides an ecological source of materials needed for the allotment, bushcraft activities and camp fires.
Two wildlife ponds are an invaluable asset and all children have a very muddy hand in their yearly upkeep as part of their nature reserve management projects. Their success is evident in the biodiversity this project has created including endangered and lesser known species of water voles, newts and a staggering number of dragon flies.
It is only possible to truly appreciate the positive impact of our environmental programmes by witnessing the change it has made to children, staff and the school community as a whole. The school allotments are open every lunchtime and after school and it is a delight to watch teams of children busily digging, weeding, planting, turning compost bins, and cleaning out the ducks – learning that patience and hard-work will eventually bring great rewards both in the crops we grow, but more importantly the mental wellbeing and calmness that nature provides. Successful harvests of a variety of crops are enjoyed by pupils, parents and the school kitchens all thanks to their hard work.
A flock of Dumpton Indian Runner ducks are dearly loved by all and the pupils are actively involved in the hatching, rearing and daily upkeep. They are a wonderful learning resource for the teaching of ethical, ecological and sustainable rearing of animals, food production and sustainability. As well as the eggs they produce, they consume food waste from the kitchen, produce a never ending supply of nitrogen rich fertiliser that ensures the allotments crops are extremely productive. They are the also most effective, ecological and beautiful pest control – and the pupils love nothing more than collecting slugs and snails to hand feed them!