East Maitland Public School students received a pleasant surprise when they arrived back after the school holidays to find a new inclusive outdoor learning space.
The concrete courtyard had been transformed into a garden complete with stepping stones, a dry creek bed, plants and seats.
The project, called "A Sense of Place", was completed during the school holidays after the P&C association was awarded a $45,000 grant through the NSW Government's 2018 Community Building Partnership program.
Shade sails were also installed in the area with the help of other smaller grants, community sponsorship and school funds.
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Parents Kellie Abbiss and Rowena Fairhall, who are on the school's P&C grants committee, said the idea was to revitalise an unused space in a way that was inviting for students, teachers and the community.
The space will be used as a play area, outdoor classroom and meeting place. Students will also help to maintain and water the garden.
The project is now complete, but the kids will have to wait a few more weeks before they can use the play area to give the plants some more time to grow.
"The kids are itching to get in there," principal Kim Dudgeon said.
Maitland MP Jenny Aitchison visited the school on Monday to see the results of the government grant.
"I think it's a great job by from the parent volunteers," she said. "It's great to see the school embrace such an innovative idea."