Pupils of Balliol Primary School in Kempston are some of the first in the country to benefit from a new approach to teaching their children outside of the classroom. 

The idea of creating an outdoor classroom was floated by the school’s headteacher at the time, Kirsty Bicknell, who commented, “We wanted to create a facility, in which our children could be taught and at the same time learn about the environment around them.  Our initial research indicated that to create an outdoor classroom and a 'chill-out zone' for children to learn in and have space to build social and emotional skills, would cost approximately £20,000!”

“We approached our Parents and Teachers Association (Friends of Balliol) and Bedfordshire Freemasons to seek their assistance. After careful consideration, Bedfordshire Freemasons agreed to provide £15,000 and our PTA helped to fundraise the balance.  On behalf of all the staff and the pupils of Balliol, I would like to express our most grateful thanks to Bedfordshire Craft and Bedfordshire Mark Master Masons and our wonderful PTA for providing the funds to help us create this unique learning and thinking facility.”

R.W.Bro. Russ Howard, Provincial Grand Master of the Bedfordshire Mark Master Masons added, “We are delighted that we could combine with Bedfordshire Craft Freemasons to help build this wonderful and unique teaching and thinking facility for the pupils of Balliol Primary School.  Having visited the school to see the outside area for myself, I was impressed with the outdoor classroom and 'chill-out' space, and the politeness and good manners of the pupils and their enthusiasm for their new outdoor classroom.  All we need now is some mild weather so the pupils can enjoy their lessons 'Al Fresco'."

R.W.Bro. Tony Henderson, Provincial Grand Master of Bedfordshire Craft Freemasons said, “We are delighted that we could help Kirsty and her team build this amazing outdoor classroom and thinking space.  The £15,000 donated by Freemasons, includes a £5,000 contribution each from Bedfordshire Mark Master Masons, Bedfordshire Craft Masons and the Masonic Charitable Foundation. Freemasons are keen to be involved in and support the communities we live in and where possible will support local charities and good causes.  We are currently building a 48 bed state of the art accommodation and amenities lodge for Bedfordshire Scouts at the Leslie Sell Activity Centre in Bromham.  In addition to the good causes we support locally, Freemasons across England and Wales gave over £48 Million to charities and good causes last year, and over 5 million hours of voluntary work was provided by Freemasons to local and national charities and good causes in 2018”.

Left-to-right: R.W.Bro. Tony Henderson, Craft P.G.M. (Bedfordshire), R.W.Bro. Russ Howard, P.G.M. (Bedfordshire), and with teachers and pupils of Balliol School.


With thanks to the Provincial Grand Lodge of Bedfordshire for submitting this article and congratulations from all at Mark Masons' Hall on this fantastic achievement.