A crowdfunded open space is enabling youngsters at a Brampton secondary school embrace a so-called 'new normal'.

With many schools having noted the positive impacts that such spaces can have for the wellbeing of pupils, William Howard School has invested in open spaces surrounding their site.

Much has been happening at William Howard Open Spaces during lockdown and signs of spring are now very apparent in the school grounds.

The Open Spaces crowdfunding page earned enough money for a new shed, which has now been delivered, with the school extending its gratitude to all those who kindly made a donation. The old shed has been taken down to make room and the students have been busy tidying and preparing the area in readiness for the new shed to be erected.

The project also received backing from the Co-op Co-op through their Local Community Fund scheme, along with a helping hand from those who chose Open Spaces as their chosen charity. Over £1000 has been donated so far.

The afterschool clubs have sprung-up again in separate Year Group bubbles: Year 8 on Tuesday, Year 7 on Thursdays and Year 9 will be starting after Easter. With this, the whole area has been undergoing a makeover and the Year 7 Open Spaces Club have helped to rake out a new path, which makes life much easier as they no longer have to wade through muddy puddles to feed the animals.

Six ewes are heavily pregnant with the eagerly awaited lambs due at the beginning of April and the group will be receiving a couple of orphan lambs from a local farm to hand rear and look after, so they’ll get plenty of hands-on experience with the newborns. During lockdown, the sheep have been grazing on the ‘hill’ adjacent to the Astro-turf-pitch, which has allowed their usual paddock to regrow and green-up.

Plants and flowers are beginning to sprout and bloom all around and the new trees that the students planted in November have established well and are beginning to bud.

The World Children's Fund have generously supported their work by donating vouchers to buy food for the animals, ducks and chickens and, as a result, the area is already teaming with wildlife.

Guinea pigs, which have been named Gordon and Gino, now have pride of place in the open space with special area in the orchard.

The area has also enabled chickens to be kept, which are laying plenty of fresh organic eggs. They have been sheltered from the wild birds due to the avian flu outbreak, but will soon be able to wander a little further.

Meanwhile, ducks have now partnered up and are happily waddling around school grounds.

Liz Brereton, the teacher who runs the Open Spaces scheme said, “Open Spaces has been a source of happiness and purpose in a worrying period in our lives. It is humbling to see the commitment and drive from so many WHS students. The animals are such a hit!”

Year 7 pupil Luca Turner added: "I like being in the fresh air and working with the animals, especially the sheep".