Experience: Setting up a School Outdoor and Adventure Week

The Ryde School, Hertfordshire started its Outdoor and Adventure week (OAA week) in 2012. Over the following nine years the OAA week has evolved alongside the developing Forest School programme delivered as part of our Creative Curriculum. The OAA week has become eagerly anticipated by the pupils and is an established annual event in the school year.

The following is a short summary of some of the teaching and learning that can be
incorporated into an OAA week/ days.

During the week all classes in the school participate in both a den building and campfire cooking session, as well as a range of outdoor learning activities planned by the class teachers covering a range of curriculum subjects. Time is taken to listen to the children’s suggestions for potential activities as well through pupil voice, as their input is an integral part of the planning of the week.

A former pupil, who is now a local Scout Leader, returns each year as a volunteer to support the Forest School leader and staff during the campfire cooking sessions. The recipes used have become more ambitious and varied over the years and this year included bannock, calzone, fruit kebabs, baked bananas as well as toasting marshmallows and making popcorn.

Full use is made of the varied settings in the school grounds using the stage for storytelling
and drama activities, our ‘Wild Area’ for mini beast hunts, the diversity of plants, trees and shrubs on the school site also enable the pupils to practice their identification of flora, as well as use of plants for creative purposes.

The Year 6 pupils linked their learning of the Tudors with creating posies using a range of herbs grown in the school grounds, harvested willow from the willow tunnel were used by KS2to create dream catchers and for EYFS and KS1 classes to make bubble blowers.

Earlier in the year the older KS2 pupils developed a simple ‘orienteering game’ for the EYFS and KS1 classes to use during the week, using photos of different locations outside and KS2 classes practiced compass skills during their orienteering games within the school grounds.

In addition, each class has the opportunity to develop skills in the use of a range of simple tools, with progression over each year group. For example, Nursery children learn how to use a hammer in Hapa Zome Art, this develops to using hammer and nails in Reception Class. 

Palm drills are used by Year 3 to create a hole in a wood slice to create a ‘woodland medallion’, this year they decorated them with a name of the Celtic Tribe which linked to their History focus. Year 4 classes get to learn whittling skills using peelers to create ‘woodland wands’ and the older KS2 children get to learn how to use a fire steel safely.

Having tents/tepees in regular use during Forest School sessions throughout the year, allows the children to be trusted to use them independently and safely during OAA week.

In previous years, external visitors have been invited to the school during the week for example a visit by a member of the local bat rescue charity, to speak with Year 1 and 2 classes has provided a memorable experience supporting Science topics about animals and habitats.

This year as a follow up to a talk earlier in the term about her adventures kayaking in the
Scottish Islands, one of our Forest School volunteers bought in her kayak and Greenland kayak balance board for the Reception class to try out. 

To encourage and inspire other schools to have a go at providing this kind of OAA week, we have invited other teachers in the local area to come and visit and talk about what we do and see in practice. We have shared planning and activity ideas for another school to start their own 3 day OAA event.

If this short article has inspired you to consider developing this provision at your setting and you want to talk through more please do get in touch with us.

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Take lessons outside to support mental health

1-7 February 2021 is Children’s Mental Health Week. Launched in 2015, by the charity Place2Be, the awareness week seeks to shine a spotlight on the importance of children and young people’s mental health, a subject that has never been more important than it is now.

While children and young people are not likely to get seriously ill with Covid and there have been very few deaths from the virus in this age-group, the pandemic has dramatically curtailed learning, opportunities to get outside and the chance to be with friends.  A BBC News feature in January highlighted how these restrictions are affecting mental health and wellbeing.

Having time outside each day has been proven to benefit mental health and a plethora of studies have shown a clear link between taking part in outdoor learning and improvements in mental and emotional wellbeing in children.

How learning outside can support mental wellbeing

It makes learning active

Being outside the classroom makes learning active. As well as improving your mood and overall outlook on life, being active releases serotonin within the body. Higher levels of serotonin have been shown to boost cognitive abilities including memory and learning speed as well as reducing anxiety and depression, contributing to an overall sense of wellbeing. Exercise also increases levels of dopamine which improves motivation and attention. However, it can be hard to encourage children to exercise, especially on their own at home and during the winter months. Making learning physically active is a quick and easy way to support mental wellbeing amongst your pupils.

It improves teamwork

When learning outside, children interact and work together differently to when they are in the classroom. Learning outside breaks down barriers and improves relationships, growing confidence and self-esteem.

It makes learning relevant

Utilising different places and spaces within your lessons helps to make learning real and relevant. It contextualises subjects helping students to understand. When back in the classroom, teachers report increased productivity, better behaviour and better pupil-teacher and pupil-pupil relationships.

It builds relationships

Incorporating activities outside the classroom and home within daily lessons can also provide opportunities to unite pupils who are learning within school and those at home. Results from these activities provide opportunities to share what each child has done, discuss their achievements, what challenges they had to overcome and learn more about the wider environment where each child is learning. During our #BigOutdoorArtChallenge in July, many teachers commented on the unexpected benefits from sharing and discussing the activity in this way. Reflecting on the activity, they saw the activity as far more than just creating some artwork, the whole process was a learning and relationship building activity.

Find out more

You can find lots of resources and activity ideas to use in your lesson plans on our website. Join CLOtC for further resources and curriculum ideas.

This post has been included in Twinkl’s End of Terms Activities blog.

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Bringing Living History to Schools

Blog post written by Dickie Knight, Anglia Tours Living History guide who recently visited a school to carry out a new socially distanced Living History lesson.

With current DfE advice against domestic (UK) overnight and overseas educational visits organising a school trip is challenging. For many schools the annual trip to the battlefields, which provides so many wonderful experiences, simply hasn’t been able to go ahead.

There are however, alternatives. I have been working as a battlefield guide and a Historical Interpreter for Anglia Tours for 10 years so as soon as they approached me and asked me if I wanted to deliver a First World War Living History session at Gresham’s School I jumped at it.

I started, as I always do by contacting the school and spoke with Simon Kinder, Head of History at Gresham’s. Simon was able to let me know what the students have studied in class, exactly what themes he wanted me to cover and how many sessions he would like me to run. He was also able to let me know that I would have the chance to work in the school’s wonderful Chapel.

So, armed with all this information, on 5 October I set off for Gresham’s taking with me a wide range of uniform, kit and equipment all of which would help me set about bringing the Western Front alive for Gresham’s young historians.

The presentations I gave covered all aspects of trench life, from what a soldier ate, how he kept clean in a muddy trench, to latrines and trench foot. In the past I would have asked for ‘willing volunteers’ to assist me which normally involves dressing a few eager students in the uniform and equipment of the British Tommy. However, present circumstances meant I had to come up with another approach. So I brought along a full mannequin, dressed head to toe as a British Tommy and another three half mannequins each dressed in different uniforms. This meant I was able to give a full presentation without missing any of the interactive sections.

The use of Gas and the development of the gas masks is another subject I would normally cover with a volunteer. However, using the extensive range of equipment I have available I was able to show the evolution of gas equipment from its beginning, a sock which the soldiers dipped into urine, to the state of the art Small Box Respirator.

It was so great to have the chance to work with the school. I put a lot of questions to the students throughout each of the 1 ½ hour presentations and they were keen to reply. There were so many hands in the air! After the presentation, it was lovely that so many came up and said thank you. It was really encouraging to talk with the group who hung around afterwards to ask more questions – another chance to feed their inquisitive minds.

I’m very pleased to say that it wasn’t only me who enjoyed the experience. Simon Kinder was kind enough to say that he thought the sessions were “brilliant and the event was a huge hit with the kids. They were shown the uniform, weaponry and equipment of British and German soldiers and also explored hygiene, health and the evolution of gas masks and grenades. Highlights included watching First World War rifles in action and getting up close to so much of the technology and equipment. The pupils loved the interactive demonstrations, the amount of authentic kit and the energetic and expert storytelling. Highly recommended”

If you would like more information on the wide range of themes that can be covered in one of the Living History presentations or you would like to book a session at your school please email Anglia tours at info@angliatours.co.uk or call them on 01376 574130.

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How to aid Student Growth In and Outside the Classroom

Blog post written by Mark El Hagar.

Growth is part of life, emotionally, physically, and even academically. Education experts recommend regular measuring of students’ growth and success in the classroom as a way of helping teachers know if their students are growing at the right place and in the right direction. On the student’s part, having a growth mindset is critical to a student’s academic and lifelong success.

Besides providing your students with standardized testing after every semester or at the end of every school year, what else can you do as a teacher to aid your learners’ growth in and outside the classroom? That is the question that this article seeks to answer. But before we do that;

What is student growth?
Primarily, it is when learners can increase their intelligence levels, discover and grow their talents, and learn new skills and abilities consistently. Student growth also means instilling a growth mindset in a given student so that they start believing in their abilities, rather than doubting their chances of developing over time. You will know that your students are growing in the right way when they start showing signs of being thirsty for new information; when they start seeking out opportunities to tackle challenges and grow their skills.

Here are 5 ways through which you can inspire growth in your students:

1. Create communities
The communities can be within a classroom, across grades, or between students who share common interests, e.g. a sports lover community. Educators can foster a community that allows students to work together for a purpose bigger than their selfish interests. It gives kids a chance to belong and to have their voices heard. This will allow educators to monitor how students in the same community look after one another, how they appreciate the individual and collective effort, and how they create a conducive environment for sharing ideas. When that happens, the kids get smarter together and grow together and educators can know that they did a good job.

2. Instead of praising intelligence, encourage effort
Educators should encourage effort made and not the brilliance or intelligence of a student. Of course, some kids are born intelligent and will perform well in the classroom even when they behave badly and keep bad company. Praising them when they outscore everyone else can easily discourage their growth. Educators need to start complimenting students who outperform their previous attempts. If a kid was struggling with a math concept last semester but has since improved, encourage them to keep pushing. That way, they will learn hard work and resilience, two important skills that will come in handy later in life. Also, remember not to dwell too much on past glory. Teach the learners to focus on their next step because that is the surest way of making progress.

3. Spend purposeful time outside the classroom
In order to ensure the physical and cognitive growth of your students, it is important that educators also insist on spending a purposeful time outside the classroom. This can be through fun outdoor activities, such as camping, hiking, going on biking expeditions, learning how to put together a camping tent, or intricately transform a normal bike into an electric bike using e-bike kits. All of these activities can stimulate teamwork, a needed recreational time, and also gives your students the sense that their growth and learning is not tied down to the classroom as a physical object.

4. Encourage time management and organization
Teach your students about the importance of prioritizing tasks and managing time effectively. Kids are easily distracted by peer pressure, TV, among others, but that will not be the case if they have a timetable to follow. Help them to organize their school work, how to spare time for homework or work out, and how to revise their notes. These organizational and time management skills will help them grow into responsible adults and great corporate managers.

4. Inspirational posters
Anchor charts around the classroom as reminders of the importance of authentic learning and the need for developing a growth mindset. The charts should feature images, words, and phrases that inspire the kids to grow. Think of quotes from successful business leaders, stories of popular athletes, and even former students who overcame the same challenges your students are going through now. Let the kids know that in spite of the initial failures and struggles that many successful people have had to go through, they still made it in life thanks to their growth mindset and determination for a bigger change.

5. Encourage curiosity
Being curious about something is what drives learners to find clarity and urgency in different aspects of life. Without it, it can never be created. It is through encouraging kids to ask you thought-provoking questions and allowing them to experiment on different hypotheses that they will get the motivation and purpose for designing something. A study suggests that students maintaining their curiosity is how they truly immerse in their studies, and that’s how growth happens.

There are tons of inherent benefits of developing a growth mindset, both for kids and adults. As a teacher, you will only succeed in aiding your learners to grow by encouraging them to push through their comfort zones to grasp new concepts regardless of how tough they could be. You will need to be patient with them because growth doesn’t happen instantaneously.
It’s also important that you understand their feelings of anxiety during the pandemic. If you, as a teacher, would like to aid your students’ growth it is important that you address any possibilities of misinformation about Covid- 19 being spread, by referring to reputable resources. Like this, you can maintain a calm and positive attitude either in class or remotely.

About the Author
Mark El Hagar is a personal trainer with lengthy expertise of 6 years. Before he decided to work as a personal trainer he worked as a physical educator in his local elementary school, helping students get a holistic education in terms of physical activity. In his free time, he likes to go on biking trips with his family, and right now he is focused on sharing his expertise with a wider audience through his writing.

This post has been included in Twinkl’s End of Terms Activities blog.

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Taking learning outside the classroom

Blog post written by YPO.

Compared to 50 years ago, children are spending less and less time outdoors, even more so after the events of the past six months and the developments in technology over the years – in fact, by the time a child reaches the age of 7, they will have spent the equivalent of 456 days looking at a screen – an average of four hours a day. Compared to this only 182 days will have been spent in the outdoors, which equates to around an hour and half a day.

While learning outside the classroom lacks exposure in the UK’s current school curriculum, it has countless benefits for both pupils and teachers that classroom lessons just cannot match;

  • Improves children and teacher mental health and wellbeing
  • Provides health benefits and increases physical activity
  • Naturally encourages creativity, problem solving and teamwork
  • Helps teachers with professional development
  • Provides more accessibility and activities, especially for children with SEN
  • Helps children learning about and connect with the environment they live

The return to school provides a great opportunity for venturing into the great outdoors to deliver a unique and engaging experience for pupils by exploring subjects like art, maths, and science outside of classroom walls. That said, many teachers are still reluctant to give outdoor learning a try, usually due to safety concerns and lack of equipment, space, and funding.

What many don’t realise is that the outdoors can provide natural resources and if well prepared for, planned and safely managed, outdoor lessons can be a rewarding learning experiences for children, who don’t always realise they are learning when outside.

It’s also important to remember that learning outside the classroom doesn’t end at the school gates either, it can be a visit to the local field or park – somewhere that enables challenge and thinking. Here’s some points to consider before taking learning outside:

  • Invest in storage to save space and protect equipment
  • Communicate with parents and ask them to provide clothing for all weather conditions
  • Conduct a risk assessment of outdoor areas and train staff accordingly
  • Provide washing facilities and/or protective clothing to prevent mess

At YPO, we’re very passionate about children’s learning so we’re constantly looking out for inspiration and ideas to create a fun and engaging environment that enables learning. That’s why we’re really excited to partner with the Council for Learning Outside the Classroom and we’re looking forward to sharing hints and tips with you.

Want to maximise your outdoor spaces? Take a look at our range of outdoor furniture, storage and resources, which includes products from the Cosy Collection at YPO.

Not sure where to start? We’ve got some great activity ideas for outdoor maths and outdoor literacy, as well as some helpful advice on creating an outdoor learning environment.

Don’t forget to celebrate Outdoor Classroom Day on 5 November 2020.

This post has been included in Twinkl’s End of Terms Activities blog.

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3 Back to School Activities to get Children Learning Outside

Blog post written by Liv Corp, Content Executive at Twinkl Educational Publishing.

When schools across the UK closed their doors to most students due to Coronavirus, it completely changed how we educated our children. Overnight, classes were in dining rooms and back gardens became playgrounds. Meanwhile, teachers, parents and students adapted to home learning and brilliantly continued the education of our children.

Returning to school in September will undoubtedly be a different experience for both pupils and staff. New safety guidance such as observing social distancing, keeping to your bubbles and enhanced cleaning procedures are all part of our ‘new normal’, and these changes will also apply in school. Change can be scary, therefore it is important that children feel supported in their return to the classroom.

One way of getting children excited about returning to school is taking them outside of the classroom, and into the outdoors. Teaching outside of the usual classroom encourages children to feel freedom whilst learning and ensures an engaging lesson for your pupils. What’s not to love?

If you are looking for simple ways to inspire your young pupils by taking their learning experience outside of the classroom, take a look at these activities:

Plan a Scavenger Hunt
The classic outdoor activity! A scavenger hunt is simple to set up but very effective at reinforcing problem-solving skills, plus easily adaptable for all abilities and age groups.

All you need to get started is a list of items which could be found easily enough on your school field or outdoor play area; you could include items such as flat stones, leaves and pine cones.

Once the children have found their items they could then be tasked with sketching their items to develop their observation skills, or they could use some of their scavenged items to make a collage. There’s so much scope for taking this simple idea and making it your own.

Take the Maths Lesson Outdoors with Trail Cards
Creating a maths lesson which piques the interest of all pupils in the class is not always easy, but with these free trail cards from Twinkl, everyone in the class will be engaged in their maths lesson. This outdoor activity is the perfect way to get your pupil’s working their maths muscles and could even be incorporated into your scavenger hunt for older pupils or as a separate activity. This particular resource has two different ability levels, one designed for EYFS and one for KS1.

All of the items children are tasked with finding should be available within your school play areas and focus on numbers and shapes.

Twinkl offers a wide range of resources which can be used for outdoor learning and also gives teachers a handy guide on how to get started.

Get Creative with Leaf Painting and Threading
Once you have been out on your scavenger hunts, the fun doesn’t have to stop there! After the children have collected their leaves, the crafting can begin. Taking the leaves collected from the school field, you can upcycle them into hanging mobiles. All you will need is the leaves, some string, and a twig. If you are wanting to paint them, then you will need some paints and brushes.

Children can practice different brush strokes with their brushes, and you can encourage the use of bright colours to help the leaves stand out. This activity also allows time for children to investigate the different shapes of their leaves and the varying textures. Helping children to explore shapes helps develop their ability to identify and organise information, and can also offer a more accessible route to understanding maths.

Later, once your painted leaves have dried, you can turn them into mobiles. With these easy to follow instructions from Muddy Faces, it’s simple for all ages. This final step is when the children may need a little help from teachers with tying the string around the twig, and they may need a demonstration with piercing the leaves with a twig. However, after that, the children should be ready to craft independently.

Once finished, these are lovely craft items which can be hung outdoors at school or would make for a lovely feature in gardens at home.

Returning to school in September this year will be challenging more than most, but brilliant teachers, resilient pupils and little tricks like this will help make the transition a little bit easier. If you would like any further resources to help support the transition back to school, Twinkl has created a range of resources in line with the UK’s Recovery Curriculum.

About the Author

Liv Corp is a Content Executive at Twinkl Educational Publishing, which provides over 650,000 teacher-made resources. These include everything from worksheets to print at home, original storybooks sent to your door and interactive online resources including educational games and videos.

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The past, the present and the future of school travel

Blog post written by Caroline Cudworth, Marketing Assistant Manager at Rayburn Tours.

2020 – the year the world came to a standstill. No one ever saw it coming, but in a matter of weeks flights stopped, borders closed and people around the world were asked to ‘stay at home’.

As the UK went into lockdown in late March, so did the schools, and for school tour operator Rayburn Tours, this made the situation even more complicated.

Managing Director, Jamie Boyden, commented:
“We were challenged on both ends of our operational chain. We were dealing with cancelled trips for schools – many of which had staff working remotely, and in some cases, not easily able to make contact with all parents – and we were dealing with suppliers in countries that are also in lockdown and in some cases unable to respond.”

Whilst the challenges kept coming with the ever-evolving situation, Rayburn Tours did everything in their power to ensure their customers were kept in the loop, dealt with as swiftly as possible and, most importantly, not left out of pocket. Jamie Boyden went on to say:

“We’ve always been proud of our individual, tailored service. For decades, we’ve been telling schools how we work with each client individually to provide them with the tour that matches their needs, and in times like these it’s never been so important to be dealt with as an individual.”

Rayburn Tours recently announced their number one aim was to ensure their clients were not left out of pocket by a situation that was beyond anyone’s control. Whether they postponed tours, helped groups claim on their insurance or issued a refund, the team worked tirelessly to ensure their clients wouldn’t lose out financially – and the work still continues!

“Does this approach mean it takes longer for all clients to get a resolution? Unfortunately, yes, as we are liaising with airlines, hoteliers and range of suppliers all around the world. But the pay-off is that it ensures our clients get the best outcome for their group.”

“Many have chosen to postpone their tour to 2021 in the anticipation that normal travel will resume. However, for groups where this is not possible and a refund is being issued, we are committed to doing everything we can to achieve this in 12-16 weeks.”

And it seems that this level of customer service, and the ability to be able to offer financial peace of mind, has given schools the confidence to start thinking about the future.

“Schools are still booking trips for 2021 with us which is fantastic to see, as it means they’re still keen to give their students the opportunity to learn in some of the most incredible destinations around the world – and we’re pleased to be able to help them facilitate this safely and confidently.”

So what does the future of travel look like? Well, the answer is, we simply don’t know! Tour operators like Rayburn Tours will continue to monitor the developing situation closely, continue to communicate with clients, and adapt what they do to offer as much flexibility as possible to help schools plan future trips and, eventually, travel.

We must be optimistic that a level of normality will return in all areas of our lives soon and, for our own mental health, we must give ourselves something to look forward to. And that thing is travel.

About the Author
Caroline Cudworth is the Marketing Assistant Manager at Rayburn Tours. Caroline and her team’s role is to inspire schools to take learning outside the classroom, within the UK, Europe and beyond.
Rayburn Tours is an independent, family-run business that has been dedicated to providing tailor-made, international tours for groups since 1965; specialising in Educational Trips, Ski Trips and Sports Tours for schools, as well as Concert Tours for all types of youth and adult ensembles.

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The space to learn

Responding to the impact Covid-19 has had on learning and meeting guidelines around physical distancing is requiring schools to be innovative in how they deliver the curriculum and support pupil health and wellbeing, writes Justine Lee from the Council for Learning Outside the Classroom.

In recognition of the consequence of a sustained period of absence from school on the mental health of pupils, both the Welsh and Scottish governments and have put outdoor learning at the heart of their guidance to schools on reopening more widely. The Department for Education in England has also recommended that schools utilise outdoor spaces in their planning.

The Council for Learning Outside the Classroom is campaigning for more schools to re-evaluate how and where they teach.

Dr Anne Hunt, chief executive at the Council for Learning Outside the Classroom, said: “Teaching doesn’t have to take place in school buildings. Moving outside or utilising other spaces within the local community means teachers will be able to deliver the curriculum safely and effectively whilst ensuring they meet government guidelines on physical distancing.

“Children and young people are dealing with high levels of disruption, uncertainty and a lack of physical connection with their friends and with the natural world and the inequalities are widening. Learning outside the classroom offers a well-evidenced intervention – with almost universal availability and at very low cost – that can make such a big difference to so many children and young people.”

Space to learn

Thanks to a long tradition of using outdoor learning, Kendall Primary School in Essex has been able to welcome over 100 children back to school since the beginning of June.

Lewis Barrett-Rodger, deputy head teacher, said: “When planning to re-open, we knew that our well-established outdoor learning would be essential in maintaining social distancing and keeping our staff and pupils safe whilst at school. Being outside gives our children more space to learn and helps them to keep apart from each other where necessary. We also know from the science that being outside reduces the risk of transmission.

“In the midst of such a traumatic event for many people, the children’s wellbeing has been at the forefront of lessons. Children have been encouraged to talk about their experiences of lockdown and express their hopes and fears for the future. Being in the outdoors is a great way to improve children’s mood and develop their positive mental wellbeing. Not only does it give the children space to run around and let off steam, the outdoors also provides the perfect soundtrack and atmosphere for relaxation and meditation. Sit Spots have been used with children across the school this week. In lessons, children are invited to find a quiet spot in the outdoors and sit. This gives them time for contemplation and a moment to reflect.”

However, many schools don’t have ready access to outdoor space. In recognition of this, Edinburgh City Council has offered all schools in the city its green spaces for use as ‘outdoor classrooms’. Parks, woodlands and natural heritage sites can all now be used to help schools increase pupil capacity when they reopen in August. The Council hopes that this extra space will enable schools to increase the amount of face-to-face learning time they can offer their pupils.

In London, The Garden Classroom is supporting a school in Hackney to overcome the challenges it faces as a result of restrictions due to Covid19. After discussions with a church adjacent to the school, pupils now have access to a large secure garden area in the church’s grounds where they can take part in curriculum-linked games and nature-connection activities.

The Council for Learning Outside the Classroom is encouraging schools to think creatively about how and where learning takes place and has brought together the leading bodies and associations involved in learning outside the classroom and who are ready and able to support schools to develop their curriculum by taking their lessons beyond the classroom.

Dr Hunt said: “Educational visit providers have been hit exceptionally hard by the Covid19 restrictions, and many are facing an uncertain future. These venues, providers, attractions and destinations provide an invaluable service to schools, helping teachers to extend classroom-based learning and giving pupils the opportunity to apply their learning in real world settings.”

“We have an opportunity to think more creatively about other suitable learning spaces. Museums, galleries, sacred places and so on are all standing empty. As the Garden Classroom has shown, there are opportunities for teachers to talk to partners and providers about utilising these local spaces to accommodate their pupils in ways that respect government guidance on social distancing.”

The consortium, which represents over 500 organisations, believes that helping schools to deliver programmes of regular, progressive lessons outside the classroom will help schools deliver their curriculum safely and effectively, deliver benefits to pupil health and wellbeing – at home and at school – build better home/school learning partnerships by enabling teachers to develop consistent learning experiences for all their pupils whether at home or school, and mitigate against widening inequalities resulting from school closures.

Heart of England Forest is working with its local schools in Warwickshire to help pupils re-establish relationships, learn to play together in new ways and reclaim a sense of freedom after the limitations of lockdown and ongoing limitations of social distancing.

To help schools and ensure the programme was successful, Heart of England Forest worked closely with its schools and deliver a whole day of activities on its site for each school. This meant that parents could drop and collect children directly at the forest reducing the need for alternative transport, maintaining pre-existing ‘bubbles’ for learning and play activities and mirroring each school’s risk assessment so staff enforce the school’s rules rather than introducing a different set of rules which might be confusing and unsettling for the children.

Elaine Skates from the Heart of England Forest’s learning team, said: “Schools have been able to use our site and programme to provide positive transition experiences, particularly for year 6 pupils who may have missed out on celebration school trips. And our focused and hands-on curriculum learning have also enabled pupils to ‘catch-up’ with lost curriculum time.”

The hiatus brought on by Covid19 provides schools with the chance to use this period to build confidence and embed a culture of learning outside the classroom. By doing this, schools will build a strong foundation to support a programme of progressive learning beyond the classroom going forward, which will help realise the immense benefits for pupils, schools and providers of services to schools too.

Dr Hunt continued: “Covid19 has impacted on all our lives and will continue to do so for many months to come. It has however presented the opportunity for society to re-look at the way teaching is delivered and to be innovative in how it does this. We are hopeful that a better approach to learning will emerge, with greater recognition of the importance of learning in different places and spaces, and the value this brings for children, young people, teachers, schools and the wider community.”

About the Author
Justine Lee is Communications and Fundraising Manager at the Council for Learning Outside the Classroom, which runs the LOtC Mark for schools, the LOtC Quality Badge for providers and venues, and CPD training for teachers.

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