A BRAND new outdoor learning environment has been unveiled so students can relax and escape.

Colchester Institute staff raised a toast during the opening of the new sensory garden, at the Sheepen Road campus.

Created with support from the Colchester Council Big Choice Award scheme, Colchester Institute Foundation Trust, Kent Blaxill, and Rotary Colchester, as well as other supporters, the garden will be open to students, staff and visitors over the summer term.

Featuring a pond, well-stocked with generously donated goldfish, the peaceful area offers students a relaxing corner of campus to unwind while listening to the waterfall feature and wind chimes.

The project was designed and brought to life by the college’s Sensory Garden Team, formed of staff and student volunteers.

Suggestions were put forward by the team about what they would like to see in the garden, and the design was born.

The team built elements of the garden at the college. A brick arrangement displaying the Colchester Institute logo in different shades is proudly featured in the new garden area.

Stuart Tyler, securities and estates manager, was delighted with the outcome.

He said: “It was a perfect day for the launch. It’s great to have seen the project through and know we took on board suggestions from the Sensory Garden Team to deliver our vision of the garden.

"It will be a great space for classes to sit and enjoy lessons outside in a special environment.”

Alison Andreas, principal at the school, said the garden looked stunning.

She added: "It’s a superb environment for our staff and students to really enjoy and use for outdoor learning.

"It’s also a wonderful breakout space for students, away from the pressures of everyday life.

"For staff, having somewhere that they can come to, which is peaceful and relaxing for a few minutes in their busy day, will be a superb opportunity.”

Colchester councillor Tim Young (Lab) attended the launch and cut the ribbon.