School grounds use
This mapping process investigates how each area of the school is currently used by people and by animals. Ensure you consult all relevant users of the school grounds such as after school care and afterhours sports users. One area can have multiple uses. A cluster of trees may be great bird or possum habitat at night, but act as the soccer goal posts during lunchtime.
Go outside to observe how each area of the grounds is used. On a site map of the school use symbols, photographs and annotations to record observations. A site map can be downloaded from the department's Asset Management Directorate.
Activate prior knowledge
Brainstorm the uses of the school grounds. How are the school grounds used by:
- native animals such as possums, birds, macro invertebrates
- native plants such as remnant trees, plants or grasses
- students for formal and informal learning, school events and active and passive recreation
- teachers for learning and teaching, supervision and parking
- parents for working bees, gardening, fundraising and social events
- local community member such as neighbours, council and community groups who use the school after hours.
What policies, procedures and rules govern or guide the use of the grounds? Such as:
- state government agencies and legislation such as water wise programs and threatened species legislation
- national policy practices such as biodiversity strategies
- Department of Education work health and safety and risk management policies and practices.
Student and teacher use
Observe and record how each area of the grounds is used. Determine categories such as active play, passive play, ball games, quiet areas, out of bounds, sports field, outdoor classroom and lunch area. Use symbols on the map to represent each type of use. Are there particular areas preferred over other areas by students? Survey students about their preferred areas of the school grounds.
Use symbols and photographs to record the land uses around the border of the school. Houses bordering the school may have backyard gates into the school, get shade from trees in the school grounds or have backyard plantings connected to schoolyard plantings. Sometimes local neighbours may plant or maintain an area of the school grounds next to their house. Units or townhouses may have been built to take advantage of a green view over the school grounds.
Roads may border the school and be a source of noise, air and visual pollution as well as a danger for students and wildlife. Some schools may adjoin a bushland area or an open green space such as a council park or playing fields. The public may use the school grounds as a thoroughfare.
Use a satellite image to locate the nearest remnants of native vegetation and vegetation corridors. Often school grounds are the most biodiverse area in a locality and can be an important part of a green corridor linking remnant vegetation. Use arrows, and indicate distance, to record the nearest patches of vegetation and any links to vegetation corridors.
Photograph and use symbols to record the types plants growing in each area, for example, mown grass, flowering shrubs, vegetable gardens and remnant bushland. Also plot individual trees in play areas.
If there are animals that you commonly see in a particular area, such as a regular plover nest, also plot these on the map. Record biodiversity hot spots such as a patch of bush along the back fence or a large old habitat tree.
Mapping uses of the school grounds uses geographical skills and tools and could be undertaken as part of local area investigations in support of the Geography K-10 Syllabus in:
- Early Stage 1 People live in places – locating places
- Stage 1 Features of places – how places are organised
- Stage 2 Places are similar and different – perception and protection of places
- Stage 2 The Earth’s Environment – perception of environments; protection of environments
- Stage 3 Factors that shape places – humans shape places
- Stage 4 Place and liveability – influences and perceptions.