At St Anne’s we are very passionate about exploring the values of Outdoor Learning. The new Welsh Curriculum is promoting the use of outdoors as an additional classroom and research has been done into the benefits children have from working out in the fresh air.
As a school we are having a big push on outdoor learning and most class teachers are exploring ways of bringing this into their daily lessons. Research has shown that children are more engaged in the outdoors, that they learn skills that they may not within the confinements of the classroom. For many children the sensory and practical nature of outdoor learning helps them to make better progress than just learning through a textbook. Everything that is taught in a classroom can be taught outdoors.
The benefits of outdoor learning for the personal and social development of children and young people should not be underestimated. It is important for pupils of all ages to appreciate that learning does not always have to be in the classroom and can also occur in a fun outdoor environment. Having the opportunity to engage in high quality outdoor learning helps children and young people understand and respect nature and life cycles whilst developing the ability to identify hazards. At the same time, they can develop problem-solving and team-building skills in a fun environment.
Not everyone learns through reading and writing; whilst some learners might feel that they don’t have determination and perseverance in the classroom, they can quickly discover that they do have it when it comes to getting things done in an outdoor environment! Opportunities to nurture this kind of self-esteem and confidence in pupils whilst developing other important skills like resilience and determination are integral parts of a child’s learning journey.
The outdoor environment can be a great arena for developing communication and language skills. Often children who are quiet in class will come alive when outdoors displaying good language skills that are otherwise hidden. Outdoor play helps children learn to take turns, share and develop other positive behavioural skills. Children and young people work better in groups when they are outdoors.
In St Anne’s we are part of a programme called Trauma Informed Schools and this recognises the mental health benefits to children when they are outside. The school is currently looking at the importance of Biophilia where the mind becomes more active and alert when in green spaces and with fresh air around us. As part of this programme the school were able to apply for a Local Authority Grant which allocated money have been successful. It has allowed us to build our own sustainable Kitchen Garden. This project is to encourage children to learn that we can become more self-sufficient and grow our own produce and become enterprising citizens whilst also promoting many academic skills. St Anne’s were one of the schools in Wrexham that were successful in being awarded the grant and we are currently working on developing an allotment area. We now have raised vegetable beds, fruit cages, a fruit orchard, water butts, composters etc for the children to use and work with. This project is going to be worked on by all classes in the school and will develop maths, literacy, science, and social skills.
We have several governors working with us to help develop our outdoor area, staff and pupils are heavily involved and we also intend to ask parents to help us maintain and further develop this initiative. This is an exciting time for St Anne’s and the pupils stand to benefit tremendously academically, socially and in terms of their health and wellbeing.
Class teachers will inform you of the days your child will be working outdoors and ask you to provide suitable clothing for that session. We intend to go out in a variety of weathers, and we assure you that children love nothing more than splashing in the puddles, crunching in the snow, running in the wind, and lapping up the sunshine.
Some of you may have initial reservations such as will my child get cold, will my child be getting a quality education but we hope that our relationship with you is such that you know at St Anne’s our most paramount mission is to keep our children safe, happy, healthy and well educated. Lots of research has been done into the benefits of taking our learning outside, getting children to love nature, working as teams and we guarantee that your child will enjoy and thrive with our outdoor learning lessons.
We have a pond on our field which we intend to develop for science lessons. We have an outdoor story circle and fire pit, an outdoor stage area. Our prayer garden is a lovely peaceful place for the children to spend time and reflect. All classrooms are developing an area directly outside their classrooms for children to access.
Come on this journey with us and let your child learn and thrive in the great outdoors. Let them grow with a love of nature. This is a whole school initiative to help the health, wellbeing, and education of our pupils.