A group of smiling people standing behind a low wooden fence with wild flowers in front

Abbey Mead Primary Academy

Trees for Cities has been instrumental in partnering with Leicester City Council after the Department for Education gave a grant to build Sustainable Drainage Systems (SuDS) in three Leicester City schools. The flagship of these schools is Abbey Mead Primary Academy. Trees for Cities and Leicester City Council transformed the school grounds to reduce surface water flooding, enhance outdoor learning, and improve pupil and staff health and wellbeing.

The design incorporates excavated and built features in the playgrounds to reduce and redirect the surface water being discharged directly into the main drainage system around the school. This includes a rain garden next to the playground, four climate resilient trees, lots of evergreen grasses and sensory plants, and three playful bridges to cross from one play area to another. A woodland seated area has revitalised a previously problem muddy area, now home to four trees that capture excessive rain and use it to grow shade-loving plants.

After completion, four educational workshops were delivered to three year 5 classes in partnership with Leicester City Council, to actively engage pupils and increase their understanding and awareness of the water cycle, flood awareness, climate change, habitats and SuDS. Bug hunts, seed sowing and plug planting provided unique outdoor learning experiences.

Today, art, geography, English/literacy, maths, science and PSHE are taught in the outdoor project space. It’s also utilised for extracurricular activities such as gardening club, and provides a safe sanctuary for Special Educational Needs support such as one-to-one sessions. As the space is embedded into day-to-day school life, the lead teacher is confident the project space will be sustained over the next five years—and hopefully beyond!


of rainwater can be potentially captured by the rain garden

At Trees for Cities, we put nature-based solutions at the core of tackling the climate crisis and believe in the power of trees to transform neighbourhoods. This project aims to capture and take advantage of the vast amounts of rainwater runoff from the playground and recycle it to water and feed trees and large areas of planting. Whilst reducing the urban heat effect of the play area, it creates engaging, educational and habitat-rich spaces within the school.

Grace Walker, Landscape Design Manager at Trees for Cities

Thanks to our Funders

  • Leicester City Council

  • Tokio Marine HCC

Thanks to our Partners

  • Severn Trent Water

  • Wildscapes Cooperative