Blundell’s Prep Outdoor Learning
PUBLISHED: 09:00 11 March 2014
‘You ask any child of that age what makes a good lesson and the answer is more than likely to be ‘fun’ with the opportunity for them to ‘do things’ and the chance to ‘ask questions’ coming a close second and third. Learning outdoors offers all of those elements and many, many more’
If you look back at your childhood I wonder what your happiest memories would include. I doubt that they would include hours spent in front of a television or at the controls of an X-Box. I doubt that they would include copying facts from a blackboard or rote-learning for the next test. They may well include time away from school, the long summer holidays and the bike rides with friends. They may well include making camps, climbing trees and spending time with mates. These moments spent outdoors were precious and feel all the more so now as we live our lives through social media, reluctant to let our children out of sight whilst watching over them for fear of another trip to A&E or, in the case of schools, another potential law suit. In recent years there has been a backlash to the idea that risk must be removed from our children’s lives and more and more schools are exploring ways in which to get out of the classroom in order to develop some very specific soft skills, skills that were gradually being eroded from society. It is therefore not surprising to know that there are now hundreds of Forest Schools across Britain as well as an ever increasing number of schools who are looking for ways to get their children out of their classrooms and into the local environment.
The list of benefits is well documented it provides the one ingredient that should be at the heart of all learning – fun. You ask any child of that age what makes a good lesson and the answer is more than likely to be ‘fun’ with the opportunity for them to ‘do things’ and the chance to ‘ask questions’ coming a close second and third. Learning outdoors offers all of those elements and many, many more.
At Blundell’s Prep we are very fortunate to have access to a 90 acre campus with woodland, rivers and all the creepy crawlies that one could ever wish for. We also have a curriculum that demands breadth and a school full of children whose eyes light up when given the chance to learn outside, so the opportunity to build an outdoor classroom from which to launch ourselves into nature was very appealing and a practical necessity. Since its completion it has been in constant use with teachers vying to book it for their English and Maths lessons as well as Science and Geography, the subjects that one would instinctively see as being suited to the outdoors. It is already improving levels of engagement among all pupils, not just those who gaze longingly out of the window in the hope that it will soon be time for rugby.
This article appeared in the Spring issue of the A+ Education Guide South West. Click here to see the whole magazine.