Q: What do you get if you cross green-fingered pupils with incredible teachers and a commitment to wildlife conservation?


A: Durham Wildlife Trust’s School of the Year!


This is exactly the top honours received by our very own Thornhill Park School, which for the last year has been going ‘over and above’ in its efforts to spark an enthusiasm for wildlife and conservation with its students, and it didn’t go unnoticed.


“We work with a lot of schools across Sunderland, South Tyneside, Gateshead and Durham,” said Kirsty Pollard, education officer for Durham Wildlife Trust, “but Thornhill Park caught our eye in particular.”


The students, who have been taking part in the John Muir Award, which encourages an individual or a group to discover a wild place, to explore it, conserve it and then share their experiences, means there has been an ongoing focus at the Sunderland school in teaching the children about wildlife.


It also coincided with the school’s creation of a new landscaped walled garden complete with wildlife garden.


Headteacher Christine Cave, said:

This came about as part of our curriculum on conservation and sustainability. We asked the Durham Wildlife Trust to help us with that. 

Our pre-14 group worked towards the John Muir Award and they really enjoyed their exploration of nature. We are of course delighted to be School of the Year and it’s been great for the pupils to see their hard work being rewarded.


In deciding which school should take the title of ‘School of the Year’ the Trust considered several options but felt Thornhill Park was a worthy winner.


Kirsty from Durham Wildlife Trust meets students from Thornhill

Kirsty added:

What we look for is a school where both the teachers and the students find multiple ways to explore nature and who proactively find ways to conserve our amazing wildlife. Thornhill and the students there really encapsulated that this year. They should be very proud.