St Peter’s Outdoor Learning Environment
In September 2017 we began investigating better ways to provide opportunities for our children to engage with the outdoor environment as a pathway to learning both within and beyond the national curriculum.
Overwhelming research points to the fact that the outdoor environment provides endless inspiration for all at every educational level, allowing the children to interact with nature whilst developing teamwork, resilience, cooperation; applying new skills in different and exciting contexts.
At St Peter’s, the process began with us working with Manor House Forest School at Quex Park as a once weekly programme for groups of children in our Year 3. A member of our Year 3 team then joined the Forest School training programme, deepening her knowledge and gaining the necessary qualifications to allow us to further strengthen our Outdoor learning provision.
In April 2019, our own on-site Outdoor learning environment began to take shape. Governors, teachers, pupils, former pupils, volunteers and members of the local community formed an enthusiastic working party over the Easter holidays, in order to break ground, dig, plant and shape the space into an exciting learning environment.
Alongside the physical work necessary to bring this opportunity to life, we began to turn our attention to planning how this resource could find its home in the rich and varied curriculum that we provide at St Peter’s.
Learning outside, in our natural surroundings, is of course not just fun but also a place where much crucial learning can happen. Learning about the natural world, noting the changes in seasonal growth, life and weather patterns in our area, appear alongside the opportunity to develop our interaction with others, personal responsibility, calculating risk, critical, creative thinking and physical literacy.
Our vibrant curriculum provides each year group with a range of topics throughout the year, which will tie together ideas and opportunities within English, science, geography, history - indeed across the full breadth of the curriculum. As our outdoor environment continues to ‘grow and take root’ this Spring it will continue to add to the learning opportunities that children have at St Peter’s.
In collaboration with a number of other schools, (currently utilising their own ‘Forest School’ sites), we have sought to develop our own plans. These plans will allow us to engage with the site for a wide variety of opportunities, helping to develop those personal skills, alongside practical applications, deepen pupils understanding of themselves, their natural surroundings and their knowledge within our year group topics.