St. Alban’s Catholic Primary School
Outdoor Learning, Exploring the Landscape and Understanding our Environment 2019
Here at Alban’s Catholic Primary School we are blessed to have an enclosed secure site that includes a marked playground with a climbing wall traversing panel, a quiet seating area and large playing field with a range of outdoor play and sports equipment, a wild flower meadow bank and a natural area, where brambles and grasses nestle under the trees and shrubs. With such precious resources on our school’s doorstep we have everything we need to take learning and teaching beyond the classroom and the perfect space for children to immerse themselves all things outdoors. The possibilities are endless, restrained only by the limits of our own imagination. Consequently, it is our mission to create greater opportunities for children to get outside and learn in an outdoor environment.
Where to start
Using a Forest School Approach, and an element of ‘from a tiny acorn into a mighty oak tree grow’ culture, our aim is to further enhance our curriculum provision by improving the range, quality and frequency of outdoor learning at St. Alban’s. Creating an exciting culture of learning that ensures ALL children take part in an increasing range of outdoor learning, which both compliments what happens inside the classroom and provides new and different ways of working through learning experiences that motivate and challenge. Presenting children with opportunities that will help to develop a host of personal skills and attributes including confidence, self-esteem, teamwork and resilience.
What to do
Provide ‘hands on’ learning opportunities in an outdoor environment that enable children to learn, practise, develop and apply their skills. Support children in acquiring the necessary skills that will enable them to manage their own learning and develop high aspirations of what they can and want to achieve. Scaffold their knowledge and understanding so they can overcome the barriers by deepening their learning as they become problem solvers and master their craft.
What it looks like
• Teaching and Learning is not confined to the classroom – outdoor learning enhances the curriculum and leading to improved attainment, progress, attendance and wellbeing
• Learning encourages cross-curricular links that are underpinned by a strong skills set
• Children develop a love of the outdoors; they appreciate their environment and understand their responsibility in caring for it.
• The weather conditions do not dictate the activities; they are simply taken into account, with appropriate clothing, footwear and planning
• Equipment, including tools and utilising natural resources to achieve our aim are used safely within given boundaries
• Taking risks are part of the learning ethos, and taken with appropriate care after due consideration to limit, minimise and manage any identified risks
In a Forest School Approach, we aim to develop outdoor learning by,
• Exploring the landscape setting of our school and following this, visit places beyond our school experience
• Developing our understanding of our place and responsibility within our environment
• Understanding how our actions impact on nature locally, nationally and globally
The Forest School Approach will
o Nurture the whole child; spiritually, morally, personally and socially
o Introduce and develop children’s life skills, enabling them to become successful problem solvers and resilient life-long learners
o Empower children, developing their awareness of self and others, equipping them with the social expertise to build and form meaningful and positive relationships with others
o Build confidence and self esteem helping them to work both independently and in collaboration with others
o Introduce healthy life-style choices, leading to long term physical and mental health benefits
o Encourage participation and active learning in the outdoors, developing a passion and respect for the natural world
o Keep children safe because they have the knowledge to identify, assess and manage potential hazards and risks and are equipped with the skills to overcome, minimise or avoid them
o Offer a range of opportunities for children learn, practise and apply what they have learnt
o Through a range of activities and situations encourage children to reflect and evaluate their learning
o Empower children to take appropriate risks, and approach failure as a route to real and sustained improvement
Our Forest School Approach and Outdoor Learning Adventure has begun, with exciting opportunities ahead for all of our children together with their teachers to enjoy. The natural world is ready and waits to be explored.
Our partnership with the Woodland Trust continues our planting programme is now becoming established, with more saplings and shrubs due to arrive in autumn 2019. Plans to improve and increase our school’s wildlife habitats has been given a helping hand through a Local School Nature Grant, which has funded training opportunities for staff and provided resources and equipment from the ‘Learning through Landscapes’ charity.
Additional funding and support through our school’s Local Authority Collaborative Network and the DfE Opportunity Area grants will result in two staff being fulling Forest School trained by the end of the academic year.
Our Forest School Future is set to take off.