Sandal Castle VA Community Primary School

A Church of England school serving the Community since 1686

Headteacher: Mrs Nichola Russell
Telephone: 01924 303525
Address: Barnsley Road, Sandal, Wakefield, West Yorkshire, WF2 6AS

Diocese of Leeds
No description available

‘Together we grow: Together we give’. Ezekiel 47:2

We are a school community and we are a family. We learn together, we support each other, we give our time, our kindness, our love and our compassion to those around us in our school and wider community. We help each other to be ourselves and to be proud of it and to grow in to the unique individuals we are, and as a result, we grow into the respectful and accepting community we all value so much- we are there for each other on each step of our journey.

Outdoor Learning


Image preview Image preview

Image preview Image preview

Children in Year five have been exploring different seed types during Forest School this week

Image preview Image preview

Image preview

Developing our Year 3 Garden area

We carried on painting log bugs today and filling in our bug hotels after collecting resources on the field

Image preview

Image preview

Image preview




Image preview

Image Image


Image preview

Year 6 Forest School

Use of knots

Image preview

Image preview Image preview

Year 5 Forest School


Image Image

Welcome to our Pad

We have frogspawn in school. Take a trip to the quad and have a look!

Image preview

Image preview Image previewImage preview

Year 6 Den Building

We researched that children spend 4-5 hours playing outside compared to 45 hours plus on gaming a week, and we wanted to do something about this!

Image preview

Image preview

Image preview

Image preview

Forest School

Year 1

Image preview

Image preview

Year 2

Image preview

Image preview

Image preview

Image preview


Image preview

Image preview

Image preview

Blue Peter Eco Badge

Congratulations to Tommy who has been awarded the green blue peter badge, awarded for making this fantastic bug hotel. The green badge is awarded to viewers who care about the environment and nature.


Congratulations to Robin who has also been awarded a green blue peter badge for making and decorating a bird box.

Both are fantastic achievements.


March 2020

Making the most of our fantastic school grounds, we made dream catchers with our children of critical workers during this difficult time.

Sometimes referred to as "Sacred Hoops," Ojibwe dream catchers were traditionally used as talismans to protect sleeping people, usually children, from bad dreams and nightmares. Native Americans believe that the night air is filled with dreams, both good and bad. When hung above the bed in a place where the morning sunlight can hit it, the dream catcher attracts and catches all sorts of dreams and thoughts into its webs. Good dreams pass through and gently slide down the feathers to comfort the sleeper below. Bad dreams, however, are caught up in its protective net and destroyed, burned up in the light of day.

All parts of the authentic Native American dream catcher have meaning tied to the natural world. The shape of the dream catcher is a circle because it represents the circle of life and how forces like the sun and moon travel each day and night across the sky. The dream catcher web catches the bad dreams during the night and dispose of them when the day comes. As for the good dreams, the feathers act as a fluffy, pillow-like ladder that allows them to gently descend upon the sleeping person undisturbed. There is some contention when it comes to the meaning of the beads that often decorate the dream catcher. According to some American Indians, the beads symbolise the spider—the web weaver itself. Others believe the beads symbolise the good dreams that could not pass through the web, immortalised in the form of sacred charms.

NELL BANK - 9TH March 2020

Our 90 Year 1 children experienced the numerous activities on offer at Nell Bank within their Science theme of Senses and Habitats.

Nell Bank offers the opportunity for children to learn outside the classroom by exploring the local habitats and wildlife. The animal senses activities, habitat trails and species identification sessions offer practical and relevant learning experiences which are full of fun.


Scrap Shed Launch - Playday Training

Scrap Sheds are metal containers, wooden sheds or ecosheds which are filled with recycled materials and equipment suitable for outdoor creative play: plastics, large reels, huge tubes, pipes, large boxes, old tyres, material, tarpaulin, den building and much more.

Apple Tree Allotment

We can’t wait to begin our partnership with Apple Tree Allotment in Agbrigg where we will be sharing the space with their wonderful rescue hens, Hetty and Betty. Our children will be planning, designing, gardening, caring for the hens and using the produce amongst other exciting things.

Y6 Leaver Events

Our fantastic year 6 children enjoyed a day of Forest School, Sports and Swimming to celebrate their last day in school with us before receiving their 2019 leaver hoodie and photographs.

5th July 2019

3RW visited St Helen's Church grounds to trial use of the area for future whole-school Forest School sessions starting in September 2019. The session began by orientating the children by heading round the whole four acre site, appreciating the sights and sounds and respecting our surroundings. It was an 'exploration-discover-create-reflect' session, which 3RW have practiced during their Forest School sessions in school this half-term. We then found a quiet spot in the memorial garden to practise some basic meditation and yoga which the children thoroughly enjoyed and engaged in. Next, children were set the task of collecting natural materials before creating pieces of art in their chosen groups. Finally, children were given time to explore the den-building area through play and adventure. Forest School session at St Helen's will not only further strengthen community links, but will also provide children with a range of cross-curricular learning opportunities and promote positive mental health and well-being. A truly fabulous morning!

Duckling Rescue - 5th June 2019

At 1520hrs today 5 ducklings were rescued from the Year 3 Garden Nursery Area when they had crossed the 4 lanes of the A61 and entered school grounds. Mrs Denton and Mr Dore lifted each duckling (pictured) in turn over the stone wall and onto the soft grass compost heap in the neighbours garden.

Their Mum was waiting for them and gathered them up, gave audibly stricter instructions to stay close, before nonchalantly waddling off. "Yippee! Mission accomplished" said the relieved Mrs Denton. "Quackers" said Mr Dore, giving targeted feedback he thought the young feathered explorers could understand.

30 Days Wild

Spend 30 Days Wild with your class!

It's simple: can you do something wild everyday for 30 days this June? From learning about nature to creating wild spaces on your school grounds, there's something simple that everyone can do to bring nature into their lives. Whether you take your class outdoors or bring the wild into your classroom, making nature part of school life can open up new ways of learning and engagement for your pupils.

Countryside Live - May 2019

We had a fantastic day at the show and children thoroughly enjoyed the range of activities. The Ferret World Roadshow was definitely a highlight –the host was really interesting and delivered information at a level the children could understand and engage in. They absolutely loved racing against the ferrets and each other! Children commented on how much they enjoyed the pond dipping and it was great that they had something to take home with them from the felt flower making activity. We also got to see some very tiny, cute bats and watch a hilariously funny sheep show!

A visit to Pugneys

As a post KS2 test treat, our Year 6 children enjoyed a visit to Pugneys. They enjoyed a picnic in the sunshine, sports, puzzle solving and nature trails.


After listening to our pupil voice faculties and their suggestions on how to further improve lunchtime provision, we visited schools in Bradford and Sunderland to see what lunchtime provision looked like in their schools. We were so impressed with their equipment used to develop team building, problem solving and reasoning equipment that we purchased the same package for school. As part of the package, staff had a team building training session to find out how to effectively use the resources and facilitate play and team building during lunchtimes. Here are a few photographs of the training taking place.

Our READING GARDEN is another of our zoned area we use during playtimes and lunchtimes.


25.2.29 - This week we had pancakes and hot chocolates and they made their own log bird feeders that had holes pre drilled through them and the children filled them with bird food.

Family Forest School

Year 4

Mr Dore spent a lovely (outdoor cold & rainy) afternoon indoors with 4HF producing a host of delightful and well presented pieces of art work on freshly cut (with bow-saw) Fig wood segments - there are some photos and a display at the back of the classroom! I have some green ribbon to complete each item off, ready to go home.

The children cut all the wood last week - Blake excelled cutting 14 pieces - he is photographed here back on the drill this week and I am delighted to be working with him in the coming weeks.

Cutting the fragrant wood outdoors last week, I explained how the sugars produced in the fig leaves (through complex chemical process of photosynthesis) stored in the tree trunk and branches ready to fuel springtime growth, smell like fresh, ripened figs. Figs are vociferous and fertile broadleaf evergreens, crop twice a year and mythology has it, a leaf (or two) can be handy in emergency situations should one's wardrobe accidentally mal-function... the latex from fig trees has been used in Ancient Egyptian Mummy Caskets (jewellery Boxes) - Ancient Egypt being a Yr4 Topic (...I recall).

Fig wood is very fast growing and very soft, ideal for first time wood cutters! It grew about 200yds from the school gate donated after a heavy annual, autumn prune - so, sustainably & ecologically acquired with no miles travelled. It will dry out quickly and change colour, darkening, cracking and disintegrating after just a month or two. I speak regularly to the children about nutrients and materials (carbon = the 'lego of life') returning to the soil, in readiness for future new tree growth, aided by microscopic agents like mycelium (hence the toadstool pictures some of the children have represented in their art!).

KS1 Forest School

5JS Forest School - making dream catchers in the Year 3 garden.

Gardening Club@the Summer Fayre

Using the know-how of River Cottage guru and catering wizard, Hugh Fearnley-Whittingstall, Lynne & Lilly made the carefully filtered, home-grown Elderflower Cordial 2 weeks before the Fair. On the stall, Lynne ladled out the sparkling, chilled nectar flavoured refreshment and was asked at least 5 times how she made it, each time meticulously describing the process step-by-step! This prompted several reminiscences of childhood tastings by visitors to the stall, one enthusiast saying: "Yum, it tastes just how my Grandma used to make it!" This product demonstrates how individuals can use a free and healthy plant, whilst balancing their sugar intake at the point they make & dilute their own cordial.

Inspired by Forest School principles and practice, the Craft & Artwork team - our amazing Year 3s & 4s, and Mr Goddard's Art Club under-studies - using Oil Pastels, put together a vibrant display of Cut-wood Creatures (including Owls, Stickman and... Minions), made from our school's recycled Christmas Trees. Two further commissions were received on the day! This product range demonstrates our key value of sustainability.

The new potato harvest and Jonagold apple trees sold out; red current bushes (in fruit) went to an avid home-brewer and fragrant lavender bunches were snapped up. Gardening Club grew from seed and sold Sunflowers and Morning Glory Heavenly Blues - some achievement during one of the longest, driest weather spells we've known. Grandma Kitchen painted recycled mis-hit golf balls as ladybirds, which sold like hot cakes!

Extending-some of the breadth of our non-curricular offer, the 'nobbly-tree stump rolling challenge' delighted and perplexed the minds of former pupils (returning from Kettlethorpe High School) in equal measure. Could this be a hidden talent many of us are yet to master?

Gardening Club's inaugural 'Star Grower 2017-18 Award' this year will not come as any surprise - congratulations Lynne!

Outdoor Classroom Day

We have signed our school up to take part in a global outdoor classroom day on May 23rd next year. Thousands of schools across the world will be taking their learning outside.

We agree with David Attenborough:

“No one will protect what they don’t care about, and no one will care about what they have never experienced.”

Watch this space for more information!

Forest School

Tuesday 5th June 2018

As part of Forest School today, we learnt all about hedgehogs and why it is important to protect our local wildlife.

Learning Journey:

  • I can learn facts about hedgehogs to gain an appreciation of local wildlife in our area.
  • I understand that the hedgehog population has diminished significantly over the last 50 years and why they need our protection.
  • I can discuss how a hedgehog’s body and behaviour adapt for survival.
  • I can use natural resources to make my own hedgehog, compiling my understanding from the session.

Countryside Live - 23rd and 24th May 2018

Year 1 had a superb time on our trip to the Countryside Live Show. We learned about what it is like to be a vet and made our own dragonflies after learning some amazing facts about them. We made clay boggarts to warn evil spirits away and composed our own stories about them using alliteration. We also had great fun identifying and catching pond creatures in washing up bowls! A fantastic time was had by all in the beautiful countryside…take a look at our photos to see just how much we enjoyed ourselves!

Countryside Live Y1

Our year 4 children visited Ledston Estate on the 23rd May and year 1 children visited on the 24th May to take part in Countryside Live. The 2 days complement the “Learning Outside the Classroom Manifesto”, which was launched in November 2006, recognising the importance and value of learning outside the classroom for children and young people. Countryside Live provides a first class outdoor learning experience for all.

Countryside Live Year 4

Forest School Festival - April 2018

Our children hasd a fantastic time taking part in the Elite Kids Coaching Forest School Festival.

Spring Term Forest School

Sessions this half term will introduce science on seed stratification & mycology, and taking advantage of the snow - Andy Goldsworthy's frozen art.

10th January 2018

Our children are taking part in the Change for Life 1K a Day challenge. Our plan is to link it with MFL and Geography as well as Sport/Physical/Emotional well being. We plan to walk from Wakefield to France and around significant landmarks throughout the remainder of the year. We will be taking lots of photographs of our journey!

1k a day Challenge


This evening as night fell, these 5 giants of Gardening Club paused momentarily, and then posed against a backdrop of Yorkshire stone in the school Quadrangle. Storm Caroline billowed overhead as, with filthy finger nails, we finished 3 weeks of planting over 500 bulbs ready for spring, shipped over to school from Holland by Bulbs4Kids.

Our aim is to brighten up the school campus this spring, learn about the origins of Dutch horticulture and celebrate the arrival on site of our amazing sculpture (pictured) designed by Year 6 pupils (2016-17). Tulips originate from Turkey, and the descriptive word 'tulip' translates as 'turban'.

At his visit earlier in the year, Chris Collins (Blue Peter Head Gardener) said 'every garden should have a focus that draws you in'. This sculpture, designed here and created in partnership with The Hepworth Museum of the Year 2017, unveiled at the Hepworth's Play Day Exhibition event in August 2017, is on show in school before it is located in the Early Years Foundation Stage play area.

Club members considered it's attributes, commenting that it continues to help our leaning. Baffled, seeking clarification, Mr Dore asked members to explain. "Gardeners are famous for leaning, usually on garden spades and forks. A sculpture is something else to lean on". Enlightened, our last session this side of the winter solstice concluded, beneath the darkening sky.

Sandal Castle in Partnership with Sandal Community Association

Our children were asked to take part in the official planting of the living Christmas Tree on Barnsley Road. Cllr Monica Graham explained that this was a fantastic opportunity to be involved in a moment they will always remember; planting a Christmas tree that the community will have benefit of for many years to come.

As a reward for working so hard in the run up to the Key Stage 2 tests and the test particularly, the Year 6 children experienced a Den Building competition led by Chris Harman. Each class built a den that needed to be water proof and withstand the elements. The most successful den builders were rewarded with a fantastic campfire.

Mr Dore worked his green-fingered magic in our EYFS outdoor provision - just look how beautiful it is!

These are our three entries for the Wakefield Schools in Bloom competition, hosted by Shanks Waste Management and Wakefield Council.

Entry 1: This entry by Eddie (Yr6) is entitled 'Eddie's Home Grown Lunch Bag'. The handles are broken, the stuffing is falling out and its yellow skin is torn - ordinarily, destination landfill. Here, his inventive enthusiasm is tangible - he's a joyous learner.

Eddie engages the judges (and all of us) by asking: 'What's on the menu?' and informs us that the following tasty, nutritious produce is growing: Carrot, Rocket, Radish and Purple Broccoli.

Eddie's living 'lunch bag' sculpture says to me: "You can have a bagged lunch now 'to go' made with ingredients of your choosing, but be prepared to watch, water, nurture, protect and wait for the good food to grow. Question: what do I really hunger for? Further question: what am I going to have for lunch Eddie?".

Entry 2: This entry by Timmy (Yr4) is entitled 'Cool Flower Bag'.

Timmy recycles a cool bag creating a flower garden. A portable place of peace - a pruned piece of paradise - for pollinators and budding gardening enthusiasts alike. The flower is Calendula (Calendula officinalis) also called Marigold - a vibrant, vigorous edible flower. To have created this soft-topped, aerated hangout for chilling - question: "how cool is Timmy?".

Entry 3: This entry is by Ben (Yr6) entitled 'In memory of Grumps'.

Ben's Grandpa (affectionately 'Grumps') died recently. Ben's living memorial is stirringly evocative by recycling his Grandpa's gardening crocs, he helps each of us reflect on the precious time we have spent in the company of loved ones who know how to nurture us, inside and out. By planting flowers in crocs, each of the thousands of footsteps they have taken can be celebrated and new life (Ben's life) grow.

Do I have a favourite? All have creatively planted 'at greater depth'. For this competition and in life (2 years in Gardening After School Club), it's our Eddie's (arguably iconic) horticultural response to the dietary, health and environmental issues facing his contemporaries. Evidence for us, visitors and inspectors of the 'sleeves rolled up' approach here, in part inspired by Blooms!

All exhibits are up in Year 6, all photos in our outdoor learning folder, and we await the outcome of the competition with interest.

The Gardening Club showcase at the Summer Fair

Home Grown Produce at the Summer Fair

Main display/sale items included:

Potatoes & Broad Beans

Free Wild Flower seeds, Big Butterfly Count posters & recycling stickers

Bat Box

Cerynthe Purple Pollinator flowers


Purple sprouting broccoli plants

Carrot & Pea plants

A Wishing Well

A wave tank

Willow & Bamboo Nimbus 2017 Broom Sticks

Wasp Nest (vacated - a brittle regurgitated plant/wood material)


2017 Gardening Club Graduation

After weeks of lying in wait, school authorities completed and published their findings from a thorough investigation into how this year's graduates from Gardening Club left the building and travelled home. School CCTV had to be slowed down and a forensic examination of smartphone footage after a public appeal, revealed these wizards of the outdoors at their craft.

Authorities acted on a tip off following the summer fair, when 3 Nimbus 2017s were sold for an undisclosed price along with a bat-box and 4 chunks of wasp nest. Investigators closed in as willow, bamboo canes and green ribbon were illusively assembled in a dingy, cobwebbed corner of the school.

From 3pm on Thursday 13th July, these high fliers cleaned up at the Gardening Club's awards ceremony, bristled with enthusiasm before sweeping from the building with their state-of-the-darkish-art broomsticks, just before 4pm. Their hearts were in their mouths as Mrs Howley strode from the reception moments after they had lined up outside the Headteacher's office window. However, she turned to talk to a parent (perhaps about spellings...?) and thankfully, remained obliviously deep in conversation.

Photographs taken moments after children were dismissed from school (see attached) prove that this group have rarely had their feet firmly on the ground. Their leadership are undergoing questioning using the latest Brooms techniques, but as yet, very little new has been learned.

A full report to Governors is expected to cause uproar, singing and actions (using sign language) that will have to be recorded for the next meeting of the Ministry (aka Rupert and Sally).

Blue Peter Gardener Chris Collins visits Sandal Castle Primary School

What a lovely afternoon in the company of Chris Collins (Blue Peter gardener for 10 years) - he is 'salt o the earth' & gardening royalty! He has worked at Westminster Abbey and Kew, and done all the big shows.

Chris gave an enriching in-depth lesson and planting master-class, laced with top-tips, easy to learn natural science, nutritional plant chemistry & some Latin! The children were guided step-by-step through 'tamping', 'dibbing' and sowing, before setting bedding plants into a hanging basket. Chris taught key principles for understanding and achieving great growth - with some memorable nicknames for fertilizers!

We finished by planting blue native British Wild Flowers (Forget-me-nots) amidst the falling snow and hail stones! It hasn't rained for 2 months - typical! The flowers were kindly donated by Roger Parkinson (Rose Garden Nursery, Thornes Park), where he works with adults with learning difficulties.

Have a look at the pictures of our fabulous afternoon!

We are delighted to announce that Miss Lavers is embarking upon becoming a Level 3 Forest School accredited leader. This will be supported by Mr Goddard who will be completing the Level 1 accreditation. We are looking forward to having our very own Forest School here at Sandal Castle Primary and are excited about the further opportunities this will provide for our children and environment.

Northern Gas Award for Growing and Planting

An Autumn update from Mr Dore:

We have been fortunate enough to have the opportunity to make links with the Northern Gas Networks. We can't thank the team enough for the invaluable contribution made to upgrading the growing space here in school. The Northern Gas crew were marvellous from the off and went about their work methodically, understanding the aims and objectives of our gardening club, healthy living and forest school projects!! They manually assisted a very large 4'' frog into new digs higher up the garden and re-discovered a missing potato crop!

We are showing off the new growing area in school, and gearing up groups of children to plant the (nitrogen-fixing) broad beans and Clover (green manure) this week and next, to boost soil nutrition and over-winter the bean crop for harvest of produce in time for the summer fayre! Whatever we can do to continue to improve the new layer of growing soil humus - adding some homemade compost, leaf mulch and manures will be a boost.

Phase 2 of the project (Irrigation) received the 'go-ahead' nod from our neighbour during the course of the morning session, and in the afternoon the wild flower project received a boost when it became clear that the mini-digger tracks alongside the growing area would help our Kew Gardens Wild Flower project get established in the coming months too! We can now press on with an autumnal sowing of these seeds which stand a better chance of getting their delicate root systems established and a good drink! Another great spin off is the plant debris (mainly grass & ivy) which may well shelter wildlife over the coming winter and rot down over time improving soil structure. A young hedgehog has been spotted frequenting the school playing fields recently and fox dung is often found beside the as yet unused chicken run & hutch.

As you can see, a whole plethora of benefits, with plenty of grass remaining for butterflies, pollinators and other insects, come the summer.

Thank you to Northern Gas Network for gifting the award pictured above.

Come and see how we use our school environment to enhance our curriculum and further our learning opportunities in school

In recognition of the quality of our Outdoor Learning Provision, our school has been awarded the runner up prize in the 'Stewart Garden Schools Programme 2016'

The Judges witnessed our children's passion for gardening and growing vegetables and have awarded them £100 to spend at our local garden centre.

Den Building

Our Year 1 children have been Den Building with Chris Harmon from Leeds College of Art, using different materials and their brilliant imaginations to create extraordinary shelters.