Colindale Primary School. Photo: Google

A primary school in a built-up part of Barnet will get a £23,000 boost for a scheme to give pupils hands-on experience of nature.

The money will help Colindale Primary School buy equipment for a wildlife area and garden that was set up during the coronavirus pandemic to support pupils’ learning and mental health.

It will also allow the school to provide more inclusive play equipment for children with special educational needs and disabilities.

Councillors voted unanimously to award the funding to the school during a meeting of Hendon Area Committee on Wednesday, following a presentation by assistant head teacher Nisha Parmar.

Ms Parmar told the meeting: “The pandemic has had a really, really strong impact on our children, and I don’t just mean their learning. They will continue to learn – they love to learn – but their mental health has suffered.

“The first lockdown was much easier – the weather was much better, and they could get out. But in the second lockdown that started this year, they could not go anywhere.”

Ms Parmar told councillors outdoor space was “at a premium” in Colindale because of the “massive infrastructure boom” that had led to large numbers of flats being built. She said the area was becoming “more and more inner city”, meaning children could not experience nature.

The assistant head added: “At Colindale, we have tried to really get the children outside – it doesn’t matter what the weather, we get them out.

“We really want this money to develop the outside area so that their long-term mental health is much better.”

Nisha said the money would be used to make the garden more accessible to children in wheelchairs, so they could do planting and digging. It would also provide gardening tools, raised beds, seeds, flowers, compost, and an underwater camera to allow children to learn about animals in the on-site pond.

Nisha said the school intended to invite the wider community to use the garden, including a local nursing home.

The money will also be used to buy inclusive playground equipment, which can be used by pupils with disabilities, and a sensory garden for children with autism and Down syndrome.

The total amount awarded to the school was £23,426. The committee also awarded £15,000 to help refurbish North Road Community Centre in Burnt Oak, £25,321 for a community sewing scheme and £2,000 for a commemorative bench and plaque at Welsh Harp Reservoir.

Schemes awarded cash by area committees are funded by the Neighbourhood Community Infrastructure Levy, which is a charge imposed by councils on new developments.