Tackling the climate crisis is of prime importance for pupils at Kilgraston, who understand it’s all to play for when trying to preserve the beauty of their environment

WITH their school set in extensive grounds in the beautiful Perthshire countryside, it would be easy for the staff and pupils at Kilgraston to feel remote from the climate and biodiversity crises.

However the opposite is the case, with Kilgraston dedicated to doing all it can while doing all they can to protect its flora and fauna.

“We have started a big drive on sustainability and we are looking at our entire campus so we can protect it for the next 100 years,” said headteacher Tanya Davie. 

“I know that sounds very dramatic but we have to recognise that we are having drier, hotter summers and wetter winters and act accordingly.”

The boarding and day school offers an all-round education to girls aged 5-18 and boys aged 5 -12 years and, rather than being an edict from the top, much of the push for protecting nature has come from the pupils who are encouraged to use and appreciate their surroundings, according to Mrs Davie.

One group of pupils has already created a pond for wildlife, while outdoor activities such as tennis and hiking are encouraged. 

The Junior pupils have an optional “welly walk” every Wednesday to set them up for their classwork and, rather than try to avoid it, they rush to school so they don’t miss it.

“It is helping them be more aware of the nature that is there,” said Mrs Davie.

“We often see deer on the front lawn which is not something you can usually see from a school window and we have red squirrels too which we are keen to protect.”

The Herald: Headteacher Tanya Davie

Now an audit is to be carried out on the wildlife and flora on the grounds with a view to making them more habitat friendly.

“We need to be aware of what we have already so that we can build on it and not inadvertently destroy any of it through maintenance or building work,” said Mrs Davie.

In addition, natural flooding in the fields may be an opportunity to create more ponds and man-made fences may be replaced by hedgerows to encourage wildlife. 

These will have to be “horse friendly” because the school has 25 horses that are very much in demand in the local community as Kilgraston offers riding lessons and also hosts Riding for the Disabled. 

The horses are in demand too from the school pupils, who can choose to take up the British Horse Society exam which equates to a National 5 level qualification. 

This is not just about riding but includes stable management and caring for horses.

Once the nature audit is complete, Kilgraston intends to launch an app so pupils can take their iPads out into the 54 acres of parkland and record and map what they see. 

Other projects include the younger pupils planting some oak trees as part of a Winnie the Pooh project which has sparked much enthusiasm and deepened their connection with nature, according to their parents.

Establishing raised beds to grow vegetables for the school kitchen and flowers for Mothers’ Day is another project in the pipeline.

It has already been embraced by both Juniors and Seniors alike and is now part of a farm to fork programme that will also see pupils visiting farms to learn where their food comes from and how it is produced. 

Kilgraston hosts its next Open Day on February 3. Email: openday@kilgraston.com