Building on the success of the Natural Connections Demonstration Project the Naturally Healthy Devon Schools project is active in north and east Devon. The project will be extending the work of Natural Connections, investigating the benefits of learning in natural environments (LINE) with an additional focus on the health benefits LINE can provide, both for physical health and mental well-being.
The project will run for 2 years until February 2017 thanks to support from Devon Local Nature Partnership via DESWG [Devon Education for Sustainability Working Group], CPRE Devon, Plymouth University and Natural England.
It will specifically target areas of Devon which have been identified as having above average levels of childhood obesity; recruiting around 20 schools in total from within East Devon, North Devon and Torridge. Schools joining the project will get advice, support and training on how to improve and develop their outdoor learning provision. A small amount of funding will be available to schools to support them with this in return for which they will feed into to the project evaluation and share their experience with other schools.
The evaluation is central to the project; it will collect data on the impact on pupils and teachers of learning outdoors including whether pupils are more physically active during outdoor lessons and how being outside effects their wellbeing. Natural Connections data has already shown that learning outdoors has had a positive impact on pupil’s behaviour, social skills and engagement with learning. Teachers have also reported positive impacts such as improved job satisfaction and lessons being more enjoyable.
Latest newsletter from East Devon:
Latest events from North Devon:
This winter, NHDSchools in North Devon and Torridge have been taking part in the RSPB Big School Birdwatch and including maths data handling tasks, celebrating Pancake Day, recording trees through the seasons, and challenging pupils to measure trees. They met to focus on KS2 maths and English outdoors, sharing ideas for activities that lend themselves to utilising the outdoor environment whilst covering KS2 maths curriculum including number, measure, scale and proportion and fractions. They measured the height of trees and shared some English, maths and topic related outdoor activities to try out across KS2.
At another session, ideas were shared for recording and assessment of outdoor learning. They made twig books to use for ID recording and as field notebooks, tried some active self-assessment with the rainbow rope, looked at using graphs, drawings and photographs in a range of ways, and looked at an example of a teacher assessment chart to record learner’s skills.
Upcoming events at Tamar Lakes are:
- 14th April, Introduction to Outdoor Learning ‘Shelters’
- 23rd June, Introduction to Outdoor Learning ‘Bees’
- 8th July, Forest School Skills: ‘Fire and Tool Use’
- 9th July, Forest School Skills: Creative, Holistic Learning
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