Outdoor Learning can be a powerful tool in the teacher’s rucksack. But like any tool, you need the right one for the job. You can cut wood with a screwdriver, but it’s tricky and messy! I want to share with you some ways that learning outside the classroom can make an impact on English and Maths, whatever age or phase, and how it can in turn impact on a wider school community.
The team at Playforce work hard to help increase opportunities for physical activity and sport in schools and the wider community, and have been campaigning to tackle issues such as childhood obesity and the role sporting events play in inspiring children to live active lives for a number of years. In support of this goal, Playforce design equipment and outdoor spaces for schools and nurseries to encourage active play and exercise as part of a child’s daily routine.
Dr Katherine Forsey is a retained consultant for Gratnells, school storage and staging providers and leading outdoor education specialist. In her role as senior panellist for Gratnells Learning Rooms, an all-embracing approach to the environment in which teachers and pupils interact, Katherine delivers practical outdoor education opportunities for school children. She believes going outdoors shouldn’t be reserved for the occasional school trip, but should be a regular, normal part of the school day at every time of year:
Teachers looking to tackle the Sugar Tax and Sports Premium are getting support from outdoor activities specialists Creative Play. The Chester-based organisation is working with schools throughout the UK to encourage outdoor play and exercise through the installation of high-quality playground equipment.
At Playforce we’ve helped create outstanding outdoor spaces across the country for nearly twenty years. We’ve worked on projects big and small, helping schools at every stage of the process; from fundraising to finishing touches. Akeley Wood Junior School in Milton Keynes approached us about part of a complete Early Years department redevelopment.
When developing a new playground, the imagining, designing and installing is the fun part. Often the first hurdle to jump over in the process is getting the funding together. At Playforce, we know that finding playground funding can be stressful, but with nearly 20 years of experience developing play spaces in schools, we’ve done more than our fair share of funding hunting.
Tranmere Rovers captain Steven Jennings has given a thumbs up to a new school playground when he called round to officially open it. The tough tackling midfielder, who has led his side into the play off positions this season, gave a rousing team talk when he attended the official opening at Our Lady and St Edward’s Catholic Primary School in Birkenhead. The new facility was designed, manufactured and installed by outdoor play experts Creative Play. The Chester-based family firm’s mission involved turning a “blank canvas” into a dream destination designed to challenge youngsters’ physical, motor and social skills.
“Brrr, it’s too cold, I’m not going out in that!”... “Yuk! It’s raining, I HATE getting wet, and my shoes aren’t waterproof.”… “I know they aren’t going to hurt me, but I’m scared of things that fly and buzz.”... “I don’t like getting dirty”. Familiar excuses they may be, but they rarely come from the mouths of children. Too often it is teachers who reluctantly drag themselves outside, feeling like fishes out of water and miles away from the comfort of the classroom.
Throughout the UK, outdoor learning is gaining a lot of popularity but there is still work to do before it becomes widespread across the country. At the moment Scotland seems to be leading the way when it comes to learning beyond the four walls of the classroom, with England, Northern Ireland and Wales currently quite far behind.
This past year I have been on an amazing learning journey. Over the summer, I had the chance to help shape the new space that I would work in this year and brainstorm all of the new possibilities it might allow for our students. Working closely with a team at my school, I was able to help transform a large storage closet into the new Imagination Destination at Episcopal Academy (I.D.E.A.) Studio. That process pushed me to think about my goals for the space and what I hoped it could scaffold and facilitate for students and teachers in terms of building new skills and mindsets and providing the resources and tools for empathy-driven projects.