At St. George's we put a high emphasis on outdoor learning, particularly in the Foundation Stage and Key Stage 1. Every child has continuous provision within designated outdoor areas, including two forest areas. We have also started to develop our own allotment, where children are keen to be involved in growing food that they can then cook and eat!
Outdoor Learning can provide a dramatic contrast to the indoor classroom. Direct experience outdoors is more motivating and has more impact and credibility. Through skilled teaching, outdoor experiences readily become a stimulating source of fascination, personal growth and breakthroughs in learning.
Outdoor Learning is active learning in the outdoors
In Outdoor Learning our children learn through what they do, through what they encounter and through what they discover. Young children learn about the outdoors, themselves and each other, while also learning outdoor skills. Active learning readily develops the learning skills of enquiry, experiment, feedback, reflection, review and cooperative learning.
Outdoor Learning is real learning
Outdoor Learning can help to bring many school subjects alive while also providing experiential opportunities for fulfilling the National Curriculum aim "to enable pupils to respond positively to opportunities, challenges and responsibilities, to manage risk and to cope with change and adversity." They are able to see, touch, taste, hear and smell the world around them.
Outdoor Learning broadens horizons and stimulates new interests
There is no limit to the experiences and curiosities that outdoor environments and activities can arouse. Children frequently discover potential, abilities and interests that surprise themselves and others. Safety codes and daily risk assessments provide clear boundaries and learning goals give clear direction.
KS1 use their outdoor area daily for all aspects of learning. This could be an alien spaceship has landed and left some evidence, we have found dinosaur eggs or there are even bear footprints! As well as these exciting adventures they are also investigating numbers, words, shapes and patterns within the area on a daily basis.
As well as planned learning there are also continuous provision activities for children to develop their creativity such as the mud kitchen, weather station, sandpit and water area.
Every year there are two residential visits for KS2 children, which rotate on a two year cycle. Years 3 and 4 go to Sherwood Forest or Rand Farm Park, whilst Years 5 and 6 travel to the seaside or explore a city such as York. The residentials give children the opportunity to explore contrasting localities to Gainsborough, support learning about different aspects of the curriculum such as history, geography and art, as well as giving them the opportunity to take part in adventurous and outdoor activities from the PE curriculum.
Our KS2 children also have access to the KS1 forest area and try to incorporate outdoor learning whenever possible. Plans are also being developed to create a Key Stage 2 forest area this year, which children have been involved in designing.