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Outdoor Learning Area

“Outdoor Learning has always been a strong feature at Grimsdell with Forest School deeply embedded within our school curriculum. Encouraging children to move out of their comfort zones and become resilient, risk takers will help equip them for the unknown future they face. A high quality outdoor learning experience like the one offered at Grimsdell allows the children to take part in risk-assessed not risk free activities.”

This includes using the rope swing, exploring and pumping water and building with the large crates, stones, planks and other natural resources in the ‘Outdoor Classroom’. In August 2018 we had some exciting work taking place at Grimsdell, and we are delighted that phase one 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 the school is hugely grateful to her for her vision and determination in getting the project just right – and completed on time.

In Summer 2019 we completed phase 2 of our Outdoor Learning Environment – The Cabin.

The cabin has been designed to enhance our approach to Outdoor Learning at Grimsdell; providing sheltered access for all age groups to the outdoor learning environment and science garden. There are secret hatches opening onto the Science Garden with binoculars at the ready so that children can sit an observe nature in its own environment, undisturbed. It also enables free flow access to Reception children, giving them greater independence and autonomy in their learning.

“When children are given unhurried time in an outdoor environment, their learning can have deeper meaning and create long-lasting memories” Pete Moorhouse in Booklet one of the Outdoor Learning Series by Community Playthings.

The Cabin has been carefully resourced to give the children a different experience to their regular classrooms inside the main building. We would like to thank the GPA for their donations as we were able to buy high quality building blocks of various sizes which are fantastic for enabling collaborative and imaginative play. Also inside the cabin are opportunities for reading, mark making and maths as well as large construction, deconstructed role play and DT/woodwork as these areas enable skills such as problem solving, reasoning and communication and language to develop freely.

The Reception children have been loving using the boxes to develop their own role play, so far they have built castles, dens, bedrooms and police stations.

Outdoor classroom day was a fantastic opportunity for all year groups to explore and learn outdoors. There was a maths treasure hunt, storytelling and drama, mindfulness, science and fantastic storytelling workshops held in the cabin to give a sense of awe and wander.  We eagerly await the next one in the Spring term.

Naturally 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. Any Outdoor Learning will work in conjunction with the time spent in classrooms, creating enhanced opportunities to utilise the outdoors creatively for learning and give outdoor learning the status it deserves in the education we offer our pupils.

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 as a result 72 per cent 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

Roald Dahl once said, “The more risks you allow children to take, the better they learn to take care of themselves.”