At South Molton Community Primary School outdoor learning will play a major role during your child’s time with us. Learning outside has many benefits including improving children’s levels of concentration. Children love to be outdoors, getting close to nature and using their senses to explore. The school has a class set of rain proof clothing and welly boots to allow outdoor learning in any weather, although we always ensure that children stay warm and have dry clothes available.
We use our fantastic outdoor learning environment throughout the curriculum and have recently developed an old shipping container to become an outdoor classroom where children learn about the environment, recycling and can be creative. The pond area at the front of the school is also being developed into an amazing and unique learning environment. It will feature multiple dipping points where children can get up close to the wildlife, a nature observation hide, a forest area, different zones for a variety of plants and a wheelchair accessible path that will circle the entire pond.
At South Molton Community Primary School we believe that outdoor learning and Forest Schools is a vital and important part of the curriculum. Forest school activates the imagination and brings subjects to life in a real context. It stimulates all their senses and builds firm foundation for further learning, along with providing skills and confidence for a child’s lifelong learning. Children will spend large parts of their time in school utilising our fantastic outdoor spaces and helping to develop new opportunities.
Every child in the school has a ‘Forest School’ session each week in our special woodland area, right next to the school. We have developed this area to allow instant access but also is a very different setting than the school building. The woodland area has a fire pit, various shelters and dens, play equipment and lots of muddy opportunities such as the mud kitchen! Children will also use the outdoor learning environment during their curriculum lessons with lessons being taught outside. In 2016 we will be expanding and developing new areas for Forest School use to allow for more complex and exciting learning opportunities with children in Year 3 and beyond, with children right through from Reception to Year 6 still having their at least once a week session with our experienced, qualified and talented Forest School staff.
Forest School is a unique educational experience using the outdoor environment in the grounds of South Molton Community Primary School. This has a huge impact on a child’s self-confidence and self-esteem which can be transferred into the classroom and progress across the curriculum.
The Forest School area has been carefully planned to create an environment suited to each particular age/ability group, they can run, jump, climb, balance, look for insect in the wildlife areas, read books, build dens, dig in the digging tyres and experiment in the mud kitchen. We encourage the whole community to benefit from our Forest School area, by running sessions for pre-schools and local schools. If you would like to look around our wonderful learning environment then you would be very welcome.
Outdoor learning at South Molton Community Primary School
A case study by CASWG
The benefits of cirriculum learning outside the classroom
Children grow, learn and thrive better when connected with the natural world. They are biologically designed to be in it.
The pace of learning is important. Creating time to think and reflect through a sense of ‘slowliness’ can be very powerful.
Learning through adventure and experience is ‘hard wired’ into children and should be strongly nurtured. It tends to be adult attitudes and curriculum pressures that are often the barrier!
Learning outdoors and in a less structured environment can be more relaxing for many learners.
We can use outdoor learning to create a ‘growth mindset’ in our young people – attitudes of “I can do it” and “let’s try again”.
Curiosity, creativity and imagination can be easily catered for outdoors. As can resilience and collaboration (we don’t need to over structure or over manage the experiences).
We must allow for failure, setback and adversity in our learning. Also that ambiguity and even a little ‘chaos’ can be a positive thing!
Risk is an intelligent behaviour – we must allow for risk taking (within limits) and learn from it. There will be bumps and scrapes and the occasional accident.
When it comes to learning outside the classroom we must think ‘and’ not ‘or’. It’s not either indoor or outdoor learning but combining the two. Outdoor learning can help to provide context and meaning.
Mindsets and behaviours can easily shift from ‘me’ to ‘we’ to allow for greater collaboration and team/group based activities.