Sawyers Valley Primary School is a small school with a big heart. It has a strong environmental and community focus, and is fortunate to adjoin a Shire reserve, small wetland, and the headwaters of the Jarrah Creek. In 2015, a small group of ambitious parents with one of the schools early childhood teachers, applied for a Community Action Grant through State NRM. The main aims were to build an outdoor classroom in the nature play area, and to deliver environmental and cultural heritage education to students, through incursions and signage.
The grant was approved, and in 2016 the NRM team oversaw the construction of the outdoor classroom, which includes engravings of the six Noongar seasons. Two very special incursions took place, one from the amazing Noel Nannup, who spoke about the history and beliefs of the Whadjuck people from the local area. The other from the Nearer to Nature (N2N) Program in the Parks and Wildlife Service, who spoke of the ways the Whadjuck people used the local flora species.
In 2017, three interpretive signs were developed and installed. One was on the spread of the devastating Phytophthora dieback disease, and the other two were on the six Noongar seasons of the Perth Hills. One of the Noongar season signs actually sits on the side of the Heritage Trail near the school so the community can enjoy the information too.
Finally, a considerable amount of weed control was carried out in Jarrah Creek reserve to enhance the habitat for native flora and fauna species. School principal, Fiona Collopy said, “Receiving this grant has meant a great deal to us. It has enabled us to bring together so many important aspects of our school curriculum in valuing, sustaining and enjoying our natural surroundings and cultural heritage. Our Nature Play space is certainly well used by our staff and students, and it is a very popular area of our school.”
Bronwyn Scallan from Perth NRM attended the outdoor classroom launch in November and was impressed by the high level of parental involvement, in partnership with local experts and the wider community, to design and build the beautiful outdoor classroom and create the Noongar six season information and dieback interpretative signage.
“Perth NRM is thrilled to be involved in projects that support communities to disseminate cultural information. This is such an asset for the Sawyers Valley children and extended community” said Bronwyn.
Article provided by Nicole Willers
Photo 1: Natureplay area with outdoor classroom (D. Murphy)
Photo 2: Noongar seasons of the Perth Hills sign (N. Willers)