St Modan’s High School was rebuilt under the PPI programme 12 years ago, and like many  modern secondary schools, has accessible outdoor flat roof space. A rooftop garden was built into the original design with a greenhouse, pond, raised beds, water, electricity, a safe perimeter and lovely views. It is used periodically by the adjacent Science department, but had been poorly maintained for a number of years for various reasons; mainly because it is a big job for one department.

They have now raised funds to transform the garden space - not only will it serve as a garden, it will host a pupil run outdoor enterprise café and a number of pupils will be working with TCV Scotland in order to carry out the build, providing pupils with opportunities to gain essential employability skills.  This will also be a safe space where pupils can enjoy all the benefits of outdoor learning, and a tranquil environment to escape the pressures and anxieties that pupils experience. Funds are in place and work is planned to start in January 2021.

St Modan’s uniquely serves pupils from three local authorities: Clackmannanshire, Falkirk and Stirling. It also provides facilities for children with Autism within the classroom or in a teaching base.

Top Tips

Consult. This is the only way to ensure buy-in to share ongoing maintenance, and to make sure it really serves the whole school community. The pupils are helping with the final design.

If you have an idea, make it happen. If you see an under used outdoor space with potential, start talking to everyone and anyone about it.

Work in partnership with folk who have skills you don’t. The school consulted widely, and are working with TCV Scotland who are helping with school community discussions, technical build knowledge and will bring outdoor learning experience to the project. In partnership with TCV Scotland, the grant funds have been raised to pay for the project and for TCV Scotland’s time.

Making it happen

St Modan’s tried to get this project up and running a few years ago. It stalled due to lack of  staff capacity, and feeling daunted by the need for funds. They thought that funding was the big barrier, but have found there are many funding opportunities for projects that have been well-thought through, consulted on and developed with the right partners. 

This year of Covid-19 has also focused minds on making the best of all resources the school has, for safe and effective outdoor learning activities.

Things to consider

Build in sustainability at the consultation and planning phase. The staff do not want this space to be under-used and poorly maintained again. There will be a range of departments using the space, and ‘On the Roof’ will link in with the school’s Vocational Training Centre to ensure the garden is maintained and kept in a good condition as part of the Centre’s ongoing work.

Give pupils essential skills during the build phase, so they benefit from the process as well as the outcome.

Who can help?

The support of the Head Teacher is vital.

As a PPI school, permission was needed from the Facilities Management Company (FES) and Stirling Council have provided support through their Education Officer (Learning for Sustainability) who is also a part-time secondary school teacher.

greenspace scotland gave advice on funding sources and possible partners to approach

The funding is coming from Youth Scotland Covid Recovery Fund.

TCV  Scotland have been invaluable in helping to plan the project and to raise the funds.

“We aim to use the garden as a community hub – bringing the community of St Modan’s together.  I am looking forward to the opening of the garden ‘On the Roof’, on a nice summer day in Stirling, with the pupils running their own social enterprise café.”

  Lesley Kettles, Education Officer (LfS) Stirling Council