Winterhill Engine Pond Project

The Engine Project has been a school led project that has been active for the last 7 years. The advertiser published a piece from them in the Young Tizer section of the paper in 2015.

We formed the Year 10 student council earlier this year and we were all eager to find a project to get stuck into. The Old Engine Pond in front of the school was brought to our attention due to concerns from the community, and we wanted to make a positive change. Everyone within the local community knows the Engine Pond and at some point will have played around it and in some cases, weather permitting, played in it! However, over the last three years it has become extremely polluted, overgrown and dangerous, not to mention the big impact on innocent wildlife that live there.We immediately wanted to get down there and clean it ourselves but thought that we may have little impact just on our own. Therefore, we contacted Kevin Burke who works for RMBC and is head of green spaces.We needed his help and support in order for us to get this project under way. Of course, for him to take us seriously, we wanted to make sure we had a thorough plan of action, a clear set of objectives, and the right team. Also, we wanted to be a lead on this project and to personally contact all the necessary people that we would need for this project to progress. As a result, the Winterhill Year 11 school prefect events team and Year 11 environment prefect helped us organise a meeting for us all to meet. To ensure we did the right thing with the pond, we also contacted the science, history and geography departments to research the area so we can create information to put around the pond.We had one more meeting so that we could set a date and decide exactly what we were going to do. We decided on November 21 and 28 that it would run over the both Saturdays from 10am to 2pm. We realised the more people that knew about this project, the more people would come and help us, and obviously we would get more vital work done to support the community. To promote the project, we went and spoke in all the school’s assemblies to invite Winterhill students to join us as well as local councillors, Rother FM and the Rotherham Advertiser to further get the message out there.The whole of the Winterhill student council took an active part in this too. Some contacted the councillors, some contacted the radio station and some asked the questions in the meetings. It was my job, as head of the student council, to ensure that it was organised and done professionally. Overall, the team have learnt so much from this experience and it’s not even started yet! We would also like to rename the pond to something a little more appealing to show off all our hard work.We want to make it a place that primary schools can visit and learn from.  But ultimately, we want to create something that we can all access and enjoy, something that was created by Winterhill students for the community. Our aim is simple – to make a difference in the community.

By Leoni Hill (age 14), Year 10 Winterhill School, head of the student council

Dan and I have met with Simon Jeffrey, the safeguarding lead from Winterhill, to discuss how we can work together on our project. Simon explained that the Engine Pond project has been running for 7 years as part of the school’s project that snowballed. This project became the bedrock of the school prefects that take on extra responsibilities. Simon has explained that they have received funding in the form of grants from RMBC and The Rotherham Advertiser. These funds were able to provide the new pavement at engine pond, £300 food parcels that were distributed to those in need and loneliness visits to care homes. The school has a team of 50 prefects that the lead the extracurricular activities that the school undertakes throughout the year. They specifically have a community team that we could work with to enhance what they already aim to achieve.

Simon is excited about the prospect at working together and believes that it’s a perfect time to begin engaging with a new batch of students to carry on the prefects. Simon wants to continue to engage in with the community and is also keen about connecting with residents. We have spoken about how a potential committee would work in the form of an official representative of the school on the committee as well as other community leaders.

I supported the community engagement on the Engine Pond. There were more than 10 young people from the school helping as well as representatives from school, local councilors, RMBC Green Spaces workers and local residents. It was amazing to see the how much enthusiasm and hard work is going into the area to establish the site as a place where nature can thrive without the threat of pollution and litter.

I am looking forward to seeing how the relationship between the school and residents develops, and how we can work together to make a more cohesive community in the area.