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Growing Together Project 2019


Welcome to the Growing Together project page. On this page you will find regular updates, photographs and information about the year long project being run with Nightingale Class. The project is being run by Mr John Cross and Dr George McGavin.

Starting at the end of January, they will be visiting school every month to work with the children in Nightingale Class. More details about the project and the events will be posted later but if you are a parent of a child in Nightingale Class  or are just generally interested in the project,  then please come along to the information evening on Wednesday 30th January 2019 at 7pm when John and George will be talking more about the project and how it is going to run.

In the meantime here is an introductory message about the project, put together by George and John


" Today there is a growing awareness of the effects we are having on the natural world and many of us are thinking about how we can live healthier and more sustainable lives. Cheapside resident Mr John Cross has enlisted the help of  myself, TV Zoologist Dr George McGavin, The Thatched Tavern and Cheapside  School to develop an exciting new project. Growing Together is aimed at helping children understand the links between food, health, well being and the environment.

For example, it has long been known that high fat and high sugar foods are very damaging and children today need to develop the skills to make choices about food and understand the benefits of eating a balanced and healthy diet. One aspect of the project will be to encourage home grown produce, which can lead to greater self-sufficiency and reduced pollution. In addition children will be encouraged to explore the natural environment and understand the plants and animals that can be found there and the roles they play."


As a school we are incredibly excited about the project and the impact we hope it will have on the children and families. We are also very grateful to George and John who are giving up their time voluntarily to run the project with us. Please do try and come and along on the 30th January to find out more about this fantastic opportunity for the children in Nightingales Class.


Project Launch Information Evening - Wednesday 30th January 2018

Thank you to those Parents who made it to the information evening. We hope you found it both informative and enjoyable. We were delighted to have received such positive feedback about the project and we hope it is just the beginning of us all working and growing together to  make some positive changes to our lifestyles. Attached below are some handouts from the evening, they include a booklet about the project, permission slips which need to be filled in and returned as soon as possible and a copy of this month's challenge tracker page. Please note that these handouts will also come home with your child in paper version for you to keep.

The first session takes place in school tomorrow and the children will be learning all about food miles!


Food Miles - January 2019

The children have completed their first 'Growing Together' session where they learnt about food miles. The session raised awareness of the impact of eating foods flown in from abroad on the environment. In class they used a world map to plot where everyday foods were produced and where these countries were in relation to the UK. They found out that, for example; apples were grown in many different countries but to reduce food miles we should buy apples grown in Britain! Over the half term they have been set a challenge to visit a supermarket and find out where some popular fruits and vegetables are grown. They have then been tasked with working out the food miles from source to plate ! We look forward to the results.

In the meantime, attached is a link to a lovely video used in the session should you wish to have a look at it with your child.


Our next session will take place on Tuesday 26th February. Please ensure your child has their tracker sheet in school so we can see how many points they have earned. They will also need their completed home learning challenge. The session will focus on reducing, reusing and recycling and will be lead by Dr George McGavin. Please click on the links below for this month's home learning challenge and tracker sheet.


Reduce, Reuse and Recycle - February Session

The children have had a great session today with George McGavin on reducing, reusing and recycling and the importance of looking after the environment. George began the session by showing the children all the rubbish that he had collected on a litter pick from the top of Watersplash Lane to Cheapside School, a distance of just 500 metres!! They were rather shocked and surprised at the results of 3.5kg of litter !... but it began making them think! George then talked to the children about how much litter we then might find alongside the road networks across the UK. This led into talking about the problems with plastics, palm oil and where we dispose of our litter. The children have been tasked with a recycling challenge this month. Please click on the links below to find out about the challenge.

Finally, huge congratulations to our first winner this month, with an amazing 246 points! We were also very impressed with her mature response to the question 'Should people try and buy food that is grown more locally?' Well done!


Last  week we also made The Ascot News !!  The article included details of next month's family event.


Make sure you tune into Radio Berkshire on Tuesday 26th February at 12pm as George and John will be giving an interview live on Radio Berkshire all about the project!


Save the date !! Our March session will be 'Take Away The Take-way' and will be a session for the whole family. This session will take place in the early evening at The Thatched Tavern. Tickets will need to be purchased in advance for adults.

Thank you to all those Parents that have sent back their form for the Take Away the Take Away evening on the 25th March. We now have 19 families that have confirmed their attendance and we look forward to sampling some delicious food at The Thatched Tavern.  See you there !

Nightingales, don't forget to have your home learning challenges in school for Monday 25th. We are really looking forward to seeing your up-cycled plant pots and posters. I wonder who will win our tracker challenge this month?


Take Away the Takeaway - March Session

This was our first family session of the project and what a session it was ! The day began with John Cross visiting the children in school and talking to them about why we should try to ditch the unhealthy take-away and how much sugar and fat could be found in these foods.

The main event took place in the evening at The Thatched Tavern in Cheapside, when 20 of our Nightingale Class families turned up for a healthy alternative to the Take-away. On the menu was Thatched Tavern Healthy Baked Chicken with baked sweet potato wedges, homemade coleslaw and homemade baked beans. The Vegetarian option was Thatched Tavern Growing Together Vegetable Curry with John's own coconut rice and chapatis. For dessert, families enjoyed fruit sorbet. To drink families were served funky fruit punch.

On the way into the Thatched, families could see the work produced by the children for their home learning task following our Reduce, Reuse and Recycle session. We had some brilliant upcycled plant pot holders !

All our families thoroughly enjoyed the food, the experience, the opportunity to spend time together as a family and to be part of a learning project that reaches out into the local community and beyond the school gates. We hope that the evening has inspired lots of our families to have a go at alternatives to a take away using healthier ingredients cooked together at home. Below are some of the comments that were feedback about the evening and some of our families enjoying their delicious food.  Our huge thanks go to all The Staff at The Thatched Tavern for hosting a wonderful evening and to the chef for cooking such delicious food ! We couldn't have done it without you !

......and this is what some of our children and  families had to say about the evening...

"The whole family enjoyed sitting together to have dinner"

"I really liked the drink. Thank you to The Thatched Tavern"

"I liked the meal, being with friends, family and teachers from school. The drink and the ambience"

"We enjoyed trying lovely fresh produce, the fruity water and the chicken"

"We enjoyed having dinner with family and everyone from school. We all had a lovely time and the food was wonderful"

"The rice and the flat bread were yummy. I really want to eat healthily"

"I enjoyed eating as a family and the lovely food"

"I enjoyed spending time with my family without technology. This is a good thing to do!"

"We enjoyed how healthy the food was and how good it all tasted"

" A very nice idea for a family evening out with an educational component!"

"Well done to all involved. This is a great community project. Really enjoying it"

"I think this is a brilliant initiative and am really pleased to see my daughter so enthusiastic about the environment and healthy eating (even though it's a slight uphill struggle to get her to make healthy choices) Food Miles has been an eye opener for us all, and as a family we're interested, learning and making lots of changes. Thank you!"

For those of you who might have misplaced your recipe card, here are the recipes from this evening.


The Importance of Pollinators - April Session

What a fantastic session we had with Dr George McGavin when he came into school to talk to us about what pollinators are and why they are important to us in our every day lives.   Everyone was familiar with the idea that bees are pollinators but we had no idea that there are about 20,000 species of bee in the world and that only a few of these actually make honey.

In the UK alone there are around 250 different types of bee but many of these are in decline and this is often a result of our modern habits.  George talked about the importance of creating insect and bee-friendly zones in our gardens and perhaps not always making sure everything looks perfect and neat!  We also learnt about the dangers of using too many pesticides.  Hopefully, everyone was able to take away some of this learning and consider how we could do little things to change our own habits, maybe by planting some flowers like foxgloves or lavender.


Last month's challenge was to try to cook up a healthy feast and there were some fantastic examples of delicious recipes that the children brought in.  We are planning to collate these healthy recipes to create a book, so if you didn't get round to bringing your recipes in - it's not too late!



Well done to the three girls who won this month's recipe challenge and tracker sheet.  Keep up the good work everyone and see what you can manage for the next challenge and tracker.

Nature Ramble - May Session


This month we went on a nature ramble led by Dr George. We were lucky enough to secure permission from Silwood Park to use their site and some of their equipment to help us to get up and close with nature. We had a fabulous afternoon studying plants and wildlife and learning more about the natural world that is right under our nose! Thank you to George and to Catalina at Silwood Park. We hope you like the photos below - it is just a snap shot of what we saw!!

Very well done to the children who won the prize this month for their home learning challenge. We were very impressed with your bee hotel and poster on pollinators. Congratulations to the young lady who won the prize this month for the most improved tracker score - keep up the great work !  And finally... a huge well done to all of Nightingales who have taken it upon themselves to tidy up the school site and to take care of the school environment. They have taken it upon themselves to do some litter picking at break and lunchtimes showing just how much they are realising the importance of caring for your environment is. We are really proud of you all for taking on responsibility for this and being great role models for the rest of the school.

The final event for this academic year will be the Sausage Sizzle taking place at The Thatched Tavern... keep an eye out for the date but we are looking at late June early July.

Please note that our final session for this academic year will take place on Tuesday 9th July 2019 at The Thatched Tavern. This will be our 'Sausage Sizzle' More details to follow …


The Sausage Sizzle - July Session 

Nightingales have had a wonderful time with this month's session - The 'Sausage Sizzle' The session took place at The Thatched Tavern. During the morning, the children had the opportunity to make burgers and sausages to be cooked later in the evening. The children got to chop herbs, make burgers using a burger press; having selected their own herbs to add.. and finally they learnt how to twist sausages! They also spent some time with John learning about all the different herbs in the burgers and sausages and how natural flavourings are much better than artificial flavourings and preservatives ! They enjoyed smelling and tasting various herbs and of course sampling the produce to be cooked later in the evening. The morning finished with prizes being awarded for the most improved tracker score and the winner of this month's home learning challenge. John also awarded some extra prices for best questions and observations of the ingredients we were working with. Well done to those children in particular.

Tuesday evening saw many of our Nightingale Families arrive to enjoy the Sausage Sizzle ! They were treated to a fine array of salads and dressings and some great flavoured burgers and sausages, all enjoyed in the garden of The Thatched Tavern. It was a wonderful evening and a great way to finish the term, we hope all our families enjoyed it.

We would like to say a huge thank you to The Thatched Tavern for  hosting and especially to C.E  Lewis in Ascot High Street who kindly donated all the meat - we could not have done this without you. Any money collected on the night will be used to cover costs for buns and salads and the rest will be used to finance future Growing Together events.

Please note that there will be no tracker challenge or home learning challenge over the summer break but we would urge all our families to continue to reflect on the project so far and think about making some of the changes for a healthier more sustainable lifestyle. We will be resuming sessions in September and continuing to run the project up until Christmas.  



Welcome back to the Autumn Term. The next Growing Together Session will take place on Friday 25th October. This session will be all about sustainable fish and the children will be visiting The Thatched Tavern for this session.


Sustainable Fish - October Session

Last Friday was our sustainable fish session at The Thatched Tavern. We were met at The Thatched by John Cross and Callum, who was a fisherman from Cornwall. Callum had travelled all the way up from Cornwall to talk to us about sustainable fishing and to give us an opportunity to see and sample some different more sustainable fish. 


He introduced us to megrim, mackerel and hake. All three fish looked and tasted different and were really lucky to be able to watch John cook all three fish and then we all got to taste them. We discovered that they all tasted delicious and much better than we thought!


We learnt some facts about all these fish and then the chef at The Thatched showed us how to gut and prepare a fish for cooking.


We learnt that sustainable fishing is all about only taking what you require out of the sea so that fish stocks can replenish over a set period of time. We also learnt the importance of reducing single use plastics, reducing our carbon footprint and eating more sustainable fish breeds like hake rather than cod can all help.


We tested our knowledge with the sustainable fish quiz; here is a sample of some of the questions - how would you get on?


1. Which fish here started life with one eye on the other side of its head?

2. Which fish here live in deeper water than The Shard?

3. Which of these fish is sometimes called a 'whiff'?


I think our day was best summed by one child who announced that he was going to tell his Mum that he no longer wanted bland fish fingers for tea but would prefer mackerel instead !


We would like to say a huge 'thank you' to John, Callum and The Thatched Tavern for another very successful session. We look forward to the session at the end of November which will be run by Dr George McGavin on hibernation and migration and will include an autumn ramble. More details to follow nearer the time. 


The final growing together session will take place on Wednesday 27th November where George McGavin will be taking the class on an autumn nature ramble. Please read the attached letter for more information. 

Nature Ramble - November Session


Kingfishers had a great day on Wednesday when we welcomed Dr George McGavin back into school. We began the morning in class where over a cup of autumn vegetable soup, George told us all about the 5 kingdoms of organisms. We knew a little bit about plants and animals, but we learnt about UK mammals that hibernate and birds that migrate. Our favourite by far was the dormouse! We then headed out of the classroom and walked up to Silwood in search of organisms from a kingdom we knew little about - Fungi! We were fascinated to discovery that at this time of year it is all around us and all we needed to do was open our eyes ! We discovered 27 different species and 1 of us even discovered a fungi George didn't recognise so he had to go home and research it! We had a great morning and our thanks go to Dr McGavin and Catalina from Silwood Park for letting us use their land. 

Take a look at the photos below to see some of the things we discovered. In order, we found.. .. fruiting slime mould, coral spot fungus, fairy cap fungus, fruiting slime mould (but a different type discovered by an observant pupil), oak galls and 2 species of lichen. 


The final Growing Together session will take place on Tuesday 10th December at The Thatched Tavern in Cheapside. This will be a Parents only session and a chance for Parents to feedback on the project. The session will run from 6.30-8pm and we look forward to seeing as many of you as possible. Please see the letter below for more information.