From education to employment

St Mary’s School creates ‘rainforest classroom’ to boost learning

St Mary’s School in Cambridge has transformed one of its classrooms into an indoor ‘rainforest’ to help boost the health, wellbeing and productivity of its students. The investment is the first phase of a longer-term project, which aims to bring nature into classrooms across the whole school.

With the help of its students, staff, parents and additional funds from St Mary’s Circle of Friends, the school has created a multi-sensory ‘Biophilic Classroom’. The space is designed to create a unique green haven that will have a positive impact on both the learning and wellbeing of St Mary’s students and staff. Biophilic interior design is often used in construction to increase human connection to the natural world and incorporate greenery and more plants into indoor spaces.

The first stage of plans has seen the school turn one of its Sixth Form classrooms into a dramatic ‘Tropical Rainforest’ space. A variety of large plants have been arranged at varying levels to replicate the rainforest environment. In addition, the plants that have been used represent the main layers of the rainforest, with the tallest plant being around 7ft. The different species also show the diversity, colour and beauty of the plants within a rainforest environment. Feedback has already been very positive with students commenting on the ‘calming’ effects of the room.

Longer-term, St Mary’s aims to create more Biophilic classrooms across the whole of the school and St Mary’s gardeners have already been growing and increasing the number of indoor plants across the whole of the school. Students have also been encouraged to bring in their own small plant donations to add to the collection.

Outdoor Learning Coordinator and Year 9 Head of Year at St Mary’s School, Mrs J Hutchison, said: “The influence nature can have on our wellbeing has been well researched. It’s been scientifically shown that plants and views of nature can boost health, wellbeing, focus and even productivity in the classroom. On average, people spend nearly 90% of their time indoors, therefore, it is so important to consider this fact when designing classroom environments. We are also acutely aware of how important it is for our students to connect with nature, both indoors and outdoors, especially given the last 18 months. We are committed to providing our girls with environments and experiences that continue to inspire them. We are delighted with our Biophilic classroom and we hope that it will bring a sense of calm and magic for students and staff alike. We can’t wait to create even more across the entire school.”

Related Articles