How a school celebrated its community

Galmpton Church of England Primary School in Devon held a Big Lunch as a culmination of their learning about community. 

Whilst the children were incredibly excited about this event, nothing could have prepared them for the impact they had made on others.

Throughout the Summer term, the children at Galmpton had been looking at their community and Sam Ward decided that holding a Big Lunch at the school and inviting community members would be a perfect way to celebrate their learning journey!  Sam picks up the story for us…

"We designed a learning experience for our children in the summer term, whereby we set out to investigate ‘How can we best serve our community?’ We focused on the local history of our community, from the Victorian era up to the present.

We investigated the notion of ‘service’, by becoming involved in a range of schemes, such as a campaign to reduce the use of palm oil and protecting our local wildlife. The ‘Big Lunch’ was therefore a perfect vehicle for deepening the relationships we had built over the course of this experience, as we wanted the children to really understand the relevance and importance of their learning.

The children in each class identified people in our community that they would like to say a big thank you to, both for their work in school and for the opportunities they had provided to enrich our learning. One great example of this was the children in Year 4, who had been growing fruit and vegetables in the walled gardens of our local National Trust property, Greenway. The children had been working alongside the Greenway gardeners every week for the entire summer term, and had produced a wonderful glut of rhubarb. It seemed highly appropriate to make a giant rhubarb crumble, which they shared with the gardeners when they came in for our event!

The Big Lunch

At our Big Lunch, the children’s families were invited to join us, and to tie in with learning about their local environment, each class had also invited community groups including the local pre-school, local residents, Heritage Society, and Galmpton Gardening groups.

Our gates opened at 12pm, to queues of parents, visitors and residents. The children helped prepare and make dishes to share, and their families brought picnics with them, so we kicked off by sharing a Big Lunch. 

After a sandwich or two, we held an awards ceremony in the playground for our community champions. We presented certificates to people who had made outstanding contributions to our community. It was really lovely to recognise them and their efforts.

We then moved on to a history talk in our hall, where the children shared their learning journey and spoke about how they could best serve their community.

Our Year 5 children have also been working with the local community to open Galmpton Community Garden. This was previously just a school garden but during our Big Lunch we declared this garden open for all the community to use which is a huge step.

A number of local residents wandered in, only to stay for the whole afternoon. Others came with trays of quiche and cakes, as they wanted to share in the event having overheard the music and laughter from the playground.


Our Big Lunch was really successful, the children spent time getting to know the people in their community and finding out more about them and the community felt more connected to the school.                                     

It was wonderful to see so many people getting to know more about each other. Whilst the children were incredibly excited about this event, nothing could have prepared them for the impact they had made on others.

For us as teachers, we were delighted that the children had been given an opportunity to embed their learning in such a meaningful way. They were serving their community through friendship and empathy, and also saying thank you to others who had each served our community and our school through giving their time and care.

Not only were the children able to share their knowledge of history, geography and science, but they had purpose, audience and masses of appreciation from their families, friends and wider community.

The only question left unanswered was, ‘how will we make it even better next year?’

Join schools like Galmpton Church of England Primary School this year and bring a little joy to your community with The Big Lunch, 5-6 June 2021. Here are some resources specifically for schools.