Outdoor Learning - Mill Hill Schools

Head’s blog

Outdoor Learning

Over the summer holidays we had some exciting work going on and I am delighted to inform you that phase 1 of our Outdoor Learning Environment is now complete. The result is a creative, organic and enticing space where children can develop skills in an entirely natural and holistic way.

The project has been led by Emily Jenner our Head of Early Years and I am hugely grateful to her for her vision and determination in getting the project just right – and completed on time. I am also grateful to the financial contribution of the GPA to help fund the project and the support of the Governors in funding the remaining costs.

Outdoor learning has always been a strong feature at Grimsdell with Forest School deeply embedded within our school curriculum. We are now excited to be able to use this new facility for further outdoor learning opportunities in the Early Years, but also in Year 1 and 2.

The definition of a classroom is being revisited for all children, not just those of Pre-Prep age, following the large body of research in the Natural Connections paper that reports children are significantly more motivated, happier and healthier when they learn outside.

Benefits for pupils:
92% of schools said it improves pupils’ health and wellbeing and engages them with learning 85% saw a positive impact on their behaviour
92% of pupils involved in the project said they enjoyed their lessons more when outdoors
90% feeling happier and healthier and as a result 72% of children said they got on better with others

Benefits for teachers:
90% of staff surveyed found outdoor learning to be useful for curriculum delivery
72% of schools reported it had a positive impact on teachers’ health and wellbeing
79% of teachers surveyed said it had a positive impact on their teaching practice 69% said it had a positive impact on their professional development Sir Ken Robinson, education and creativity expert, has also stated that:

“Classrooms are a relatively recent innovation, we learn much more and always have done from the world around us and from each other than we necessarily do sitting indoors at desks”.
Naturally our classroom environments still have huge purpose and are also wonderful spaces in which to think, learn and grow – particularly when our teachers go to such efforts to transform them into immersive spaces that reflect the thematic learning we offer at Grimsdell. Our outdoor learning will not detract from that but rather create enhanced opportunities to utilise the outdoors creatively for learning and give outdoor learning the status it deserves in the education we offer our
pupils.

I hope that you enjoy some of these early photographs of the space and look forward to sharing with you how it is being used
and the impact it is having on children.

Thank you to all of you for your contributions to the GPA that have helped us enable this vision.