A novel scheme to provide an outdoor play area at Cross-in-Hand Primary School is currently bringing together pre-school toddlers, youngsters from the school itself and young teams from Heathfield Works!
Cross-in-Hand head teacher Andrew Best said: “This is part of East Sussex County Council’s Village Phase Project which aims to improve teaching and learning from early years up to primary school.
“We have five year olds mentoring two to three year olds. The huge advantage is when these very young children come up to the school they will feel at ease. It’s a way of integrating them into school life and making sure they gain plenty of knowledge about life in the bigger school. The older children are enjoying themselves as well.”
Part of the area is an outdoor pavilion which is in the process of being painted. The work is being done by young people from the town’s ‘Heathfield Works!’ scheme. The young scheme graduates are also working on painting the school’s beach huts - in reality a range of storage cabinets, painted to look like seaside buildings.
Heathfield Works! is an organisation aimed at helping young people into employment or study. Set up under the remit of the Heathfield Partnership, it is part of the national Tomorrow’s People programme which has helped more than 440,000 people on their journey back to work.
The scheme is proving a great success in Heathfield, where a new programme is due to start on April 7.
Organisers point out that it has already transformed the lives of youngsters who have taken part, some of whom did not even have a settled home.
In inner cities it has helped disadvantaged young people but the problems of unemployment in rural areas have been largely ignored by government and policy makers, they say. Often youngsters in the country feel isolated, have no hope and feel written off, sometimes getting involved in petty crime and anti social behaviour.
Heathfield Works! has helped 140 youngsters back to work and the new scheme starts on April 6. If you would like to take part or know someone who would, contact Victoria Bowdler on: 07741 271994.