Coombes CE Primary School, Reading, Berkshire

Coombes CE Primary School – When Susan Humphries founded The Coombes School, 37 years ago, the school grounds were a barren site devoid of any plant life including trees. She has since then devotedly planted and developed the grounds into the fantastic outdoor classroom it is now. The children now learn and play within this wonderful, nature filled environment.

Susan Humphries has now retired as head teacher but continues her work within the school grounds. She and the rest of the school were delighted at the arrival of the 200 native english saplings on January 9th 2009. Due to her extensive knowledge of trees and their habitat, Sue decided that it would be best to plant the trees along the ecological trail of the school grounds, in areas best suited for their growth and survival.

Assemblies were held in both the infants and the junior schools explaining the nature of the project and then the school set to work planting the saplings. Each class in turn, from the little children in the nursery right through to the juniors came out and in pairs or groups of three the children planted the trees. The aim was for each child to have helped with planting at least one tree.

Luckily the bitter, cold winter weather subsided for a few days. As the ground was hardened by frost Sue and her helpers (particular thanks to Malcolm the school caretaker, Dan the assistant teacher in Silver Birch class and kind mother Katie) dug into the frozen earth. The children then planted the trees and carried endless buckets of woodchip to mulch the little saplings.

Species planted: Oak, Elder, Mountain Ash, Willow, Scots Pine and Hornbeam

January 2011