When I met with my Senior Team back in July to plan for full re-opening of Grimsdell in September, we made the decision to hire a set of four attractive stretch tents to cover some of our outdoor spaces, in order to alleviate the indoor space in line with Department For Education guidelines.
These have proved so successful that we wonder what we did without them. Not just in terms of providing us with space, but even more significantly, allowing the children to learn outdoors for many more of their lessons.
The benefits of outdoor learning denote that children benefit both in terms of mental health and IQ. They connect naturally with the space and the learning feels more alive. Children’s engagement and sense of challenge is increased and their senses are stimulated so that the connection with wellbeing and learning is made.
This week I have observed outdoor Music, Task Time (our creative curriculum carousel) and Maths take place outside, under the shelter of the stretch tents.
This model of delivering our curriculum using indoor/outdoor facilities has really opened my mind to what we think of as an optimum school environment. In some ways it seems to me that primary schools should start with children’s love of the outdoors at the core and work back from that.
Indoor spaces are frequently given the priority attention, and having seen the quality of learning and teaching enabled by the outdoors there needs to be a well-planned balance.
The tents and their impact are a positive consequence from the ongoing pandemic situation, and, whether they stay or go in the short or longer term, we will certainly be shifting so much more of our curriculum and learning to the big outdoors!