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Outdoor learning

 

St Mabyn Church of England Primary School

Outdoor Learning Curriculum

At St Mabyn school, through God’s love we learn, grow and flourish together.

 

Our school is one part of a family of well-connected schools. It is a small, nurturing school packed full of love:  love for one another; love for learning; love for our neighbours and community and love for God. It comfortably sits in the heart of a picturesque, small rural village being over looked by St Mabyn Church. In our school, adults and children collaborate to create a safe learning environment where everyone can flourish and achieve greatness, becoming curious imaginative life-long learners. St Mabyn School is the gateway through which the future possibility of the adult emerges.

 

1 John 3:18

            "My little children, let us not love in word or tongue, but in deed and in truth,"

 

Outdoor learning Intent:

The ethos of outdoor learning is based on principles of respecting children and their capacity to initiate, investigate and maintain curiosity in the world around them. It believes in a child's right to play; the right to access the outdoors (and in particular a woodland environment); the right to experience risk in a controlled way in the natural world along with the right to develop their emotional intelligence through social interaction, building a resilience to enable creative engagement with their peers and their potential.

Outdoor learning is an inspirational process that offers all learners regular opportunities to achieve and develop confidence and self-esteem through hands-on learning experiences in a woodland or natural environment with trees. Children who struggle learning indoors are often enabled to develop new ways of learning and coping with the world. The opportunity to succeed in an alternative environment makes outdoor learning a great place for children of all ages showing challenging behaviour to have a “second chance” in a new environment.

Outdoor learning is based on the process of learning - more on the 'how' than the 'what'. Outdoor learning practice embraces collaborative unplanned, unexpected and ultimately unlimited learning. Children are encouraged to direct their own learning - this is often inspired by the Outdoor learning leader either through stimulating play in the outdoors or through 'scaffolding' a child's learning, but mostly through simply observing how children are in the outdoors. The most important thing is to encourage the natural curiosity present in children and to enable them to open their eyes and experience the wonders of the world around them.

The woodland environment is central in supporting this approach to learning: the changing of the seasons, to the contemplation of an ancient tree; the dynamic nature of an outdoor environment - an infinite source of smells, textures, sounds and tastes and a range of visual stimuli all contribute to the Forest School learning experience.

St Mabyn school principles of Outdoor learning provision.

Principle 1: Outdoor learning is a long-term process of frequent and regular sessions in our natural environment, rather than a one-off visit. Planning, adaptation, observations and reviewing are integral elements of outdoor learning.

• Outdoor learning takes place regularly, ideally at least every week, with the same group of learners, over an extended period, encompassing the seasons.

• Outdoor learning programme has structure, which is based on the observations and collaborative work of learners and practitioners. This structure should demonstrate progression of learning.

• The initial sessions of any programme establish physical and behavioural boundaries as well as making initial observations on which to base future programme development.

 

Principle 2: Outdoor learning takes place in a natural wooded environment to support the development of a relationship between the learner and the natural world.

• Whilst woodland is the ideal environment for Outdoor Learning, our outdoor site, can support good outdoor learning practice.

• The outdoors is ideally suited to match the needs of the programme and the learners, providing them with the space and environment in which to explore and discover.

• Outdoor Learning aims to foster a relationship with nature through regular personal experiences in order to develop long-term, environmentally sustainable attitudes and practices in staff, learners and the wider community.

• Outdoor learning uses natural resources for inspiration, to enable ideas and to encourage intrinsic motivation. 

Principle 3: Outdoor Learning aims to promote the holistic development of all those involved, creating resilient, confident, creative and independent learners

• Where appropriate, the Outdoor Learning leader will aim to link experiences at outdoor learning to home, work and /or school education

  • Outdoor learning programmes aim to develop, where appropriate, the physical, social, cognitive, linguistic, emotional, and social aspects of the learner.


Principle 4: Outdoor Learning offers learners the opportunity to take supported risks appropriate to the environment and to themselves.

• Outdoor Learning opportunities are designed to build on an individual’s motivation, positive attitudes and/or interests.  Stage not age

• Outdoor Learning uses tools and fires (only where deemed appropriate to the learner) and dependent on completion of a risk assessment.

• Outdoor Learning experiences follow a Risk–Benefit process managed jointly by the practitioner and learner that is tailored to the developmental stage of the learner. (as set out in the progression chart)

 

Principle 5. Outdoor Learning is led by school practitioners who continuously maintain and develop their professional practice.

• Practitioners and adults regularly helping at Forest School are subject to relevant checks into their suitability to have prolonged contact with children, young people and vulnerable people.

• Practitioners hold an up-to-date first aid qualification, which includes paediatric and outdoor elements. Practitioners are trained in fire lighting and fire safety.

• The staff are reflective practitioners and see themselves as learners too.

 Principle 6. Outdoor Learning uses a range of learner-centred approaches to create a community for development and learning•

• The Practitioner models skills, which they promote during their programmes through planning, appropriate dialogue and relationship building.

• Play and choice are an integral part of the Outdoor Learning process, and play is recognised as vital to learning and development.

• Outdoor Learning provides a stimulus for all learning preferences and dispositions.

• Reflective practice is a feature of each session to ensure learners and practitioners can understand their achievements, develop emotional intelligence and to plan for the future.

• Practitioner observation is an important element of Outdoor Learning. Observations feed into ‘scaffolding’ and tailoring experiences to learning and development.

Implementation:

Our Outdoor learning curriculum is shaped by our school vision, values and curriculum drivers CAN:-

Develop a Caring heart- Children will find out who they are, their place within the world, how they fit in and can aspire to make a difference.

Develop an Active mind and body- Children will have the wisdom to use their knowledge and skills to be the best learners now and for their future.

Develop a Nurturing character- Children will stand up for themselves and others; respect each other, be prepared for personal challenge and successfully collaborate.

Activities for Outdoor learning are diverse and numerous, we are trying to create independent learners who are inspired to try out their own ideas, explore their own interests and to attempt new ideas. Please see our progression of skills document

Some activities might include:

  • Shelter building
  • Fire lighting and cooking on an open fire
  • Using a Kelly Kettle
  • Tool use
  • Studying wildlife
  • Playing team and group games
  • Sensory activities
  • Rope and string work, tying knots
  • Art and sculpture work
  • Woodland and traditional craft
  • Woodland management
  • Developing stories and drama, and meeting imaginary characters
  • Fire lighting/cooking

Clothing

No person will be permitted to go to Outdoor Learning without appropriate clothing that will protect them from extremes of heat or cold, keep them covered to reduce the likelihood of cuts and scrapes, that fits appropriately for comfort, and that meets any religious requirements.

Children and parents are encouraged to think about the usefulness of their clothing for outdoor activities, and to be aware they are likely to take some of our mud home with them after a session.

Clothing list:

  • Waterproof trousers
  • Waterproof coat, with a hood.
  • Long sleeved top
  • Full length trousers
  • Warm, waterproof boots (wellies can be very cold during the winter)
  • Warm socks, and a spare pair
  • Gloves and woolly hat – cold weather
  • Sun hat and sun cream: that fits well to ensure good visibility– sunny weather

We work on the principle that “there is no such thing as bad weather, only Bad clothing”.To ensure high standards of teaching and learning in the forest classroom, we implement a curriculum that is progressive throughout the whole school. Forest school teaching follows a whole school long term plan which focuses on the outdoor skills and links to their learning in other subjects. At St Mabyn Primary School, we ensure that forest school has importance within the curriculum using our stunning grounds.

Impact:

Outdoor learning lessons should make learning more relevant to their lives in the community and wider world. We encourage children to be responsible for and respect the local community and environment giving them a sense of belonging and ownership of the place in which they live. We explore the uses of the local area, integrating subjects so that meaningful activities can be planned and delivered effectively and regularly.

We measure the impact of our curriculum through the following methods:

  • Images and videos of the children’s practical learning.
  • Interviewing the pupils about their learning (pupil voice).
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