Case study
1 Dec 2023

Creating a green wall at Co-op Academy

Sofia Metcalf-Riener
wooden planter against a brick wall with plants in it

At Co-op Academy Manchester, a secondary school with over 1600 pupils, students have worked to develop a living wall to help transform their playground from a grey space to a greener one. 

Using the Explore Your School Site activity package, students identified areas of their school grounds that wanted to improve, and the Start Planning for Nature activity package helped them decide which improvement for nature to choose.  

Students noticed that there was a completely grey, concreted area of their school grounds outside a technology classroom that gets very hot in summer. Seeing the potential of this space, students decided to install a green wall. The south-facing space will be perfect for plants as it gets sun all day, and the living wall will help shade and cool the technology classroom. A true example of greening school grounds benefiting both nature and people!  

empty wooden planter against a brick wall
Pupils built a large 1m high wooden planter and then attached vertical plant pots to the wall in between the windows. The large wooden planter consists of three smaller planters joined together and even conceals a water butt for irrigation
Choosing plants for the green wall 

The wall is south-facing with no shelter, which influenced the decision to plant Mediterranean sun-loving plants. Students planted: 

Some of the grasses did not survive the hot summer and were replaced with lavender, mint and chives. Co-op Academy hopes their irrigation system will prevent losses next summer. 

What difference has the improvement for nature made?

The green wall is already transforming staff and student experiences of the school grounds - staff members have been commenting on how nice it is to see the wall first thing when they arrive at school in the morning, students have a greener space to be in and everyone is looking forward to seeing the difference it makes through shade and cooling next summer. 

wooden planter against brick wall with plants in it
What does Co-op Academy hope to gain from the Nature Park programme? 

With the help of the Nature Park programme, we hope to further increase the level of ‘green’ in and around our quad area for both students and staff to enjoy. We will be adding in tree planters and a green roof to a container situated next to the green wall, which we hope that will continue to aid in the cooling of the area as well as adding vital ‘green habitat’ for wildlife.

Co-op Academy are going to continue their Nature Park journey by improving habitats around their school grounds for the benefit of lots of different species. They are surrounded by four sites of biological importance and hope that the improvements for nature they put in place will make their Nature Park a valuable stepping stone and green corridor that connects those four sites.

Inspired to start your Nature Park journey? Register to join and help boost nature on your learning site.