Outdoor Learning at Trinity
Thank you so much to FOTS for supporting us with our recent outdoor project. You may be aware that Trinity put in a bid to the Henley Educational Trust to fund an outdoor classroom, firepit and seating area. We received funding and FOTS gave us an additional £6,000. With our Trinity budget, we topped it up to enable us to buy the Outdoor Classroom, a rectangular fire pit area with a sail and an additional log seated area. We also purchased a loose parts pack and further resources to develop pupil team spirit, collaboration and leadership.
We all know the importance of getting outside and as a result, how much better we all feel. This is important to all of us and as PSHE (Personal, Social, Health Education) Coordinator, I feel it is imperative to pupil wellbeing and mindfulness.
Some of you may be interested in the difference between Forest School and Outdoor Learning.
Below is a brief summary.
Forest School is usually regular, weekly sessions where children follow a holistic approach to learning, taking social and emotional risks. Seeing and being amongst Forest School over a period of time, children observe the seasons and new opportunities arise. The Forest School Leader is Mrs Chilvers and Forest School trained staff are Mrs Lambelin and Mrs Williams.
Here at Forest School, pupils physical and social; spiritual and intellectual development arise. There are opportunities for risk taking, leadership, working as a team and trying something out independently, depending on how each child feels and staff give encouragement. There is a great connection with nature but it is a ‘learner centred’ focus with the needs of the learner at the forefront. It is known that Forest School raises pupil self-esteem.
Until now, Reception and Year 1 have benefited from Forest School but due to staff training and a belief and passion that all children should access Forest School, we are now able to offer this to our older children. UKS2 visited the Forest School site, learnt the Green Rules, were told the boundaries of the site. A teacher led activity focused on a scavenger hunt with tree identification (looking for various leaves and birds), finding bugs, building a bug home and looking for the longest worm! This helps to exemplify Forest School being 'learner centred.' They were still interacting, leading, collaborating and some just wanted to chat in a previously made shelter. My group decided that some of them, next week, want to build shelters whilst others want to continue their bug home.
This clip explains Forest School more clearly.
Outdoor Learning, however, is teacher led with a specific learning objective. For example, Y5 and Y6 have been reading JK Rowling’s latest book The Ickabog; each child sculptured the Ickabog out of clay and then staff used the outdoor classroom as a stage whereby children re-enacted scenes in the marshlands where the Ickabog supposedly resides! KS1 used the outdoor classroom and environment to stimulate the making of the much-loved character Stick Man.
Science also lends itself to outdoor learning; recently, UKS2 have been learning about Forces and Gravity. Outdoors, children can build ramps with our new loose parts pack, supplied by SOUL Outdoor Learning. This promotes the type of thinking that leads to problem solving and theoretical reasoning. The loose parts play pack also provides opportunities to develop our pupils to be ‘engineers’ and ‘imagineers’ by incorporating the 5Cs:
It is also our ambition to build a mud kitchen and adequately equip it. A huge thank you to Miss Parks who has been instrumental in facilitating this exciting project.
What is lovely is that due to your support of FOTS and the school, you have helped not only with the creation of this outdoor classroom but you have also enriched the learning opportunities for all our children. This week every class has visited the new outdoor classroom and it has been rewarding to see the children so excited with this area! At break times, children have used it to read, play charades and chat with much missed friends.
Money well spent!