DISPLAYING ITEMS BY TAG: OUTDOOR LEARNING

Nottingham Girls’ High School recently welcomed British Olympian Gail Emms MBE as guest speaker for their Sports Awards Evening. Helping to celebrate the athletic achievements of the school’s pupils, Gail spent time training with the school’s budding badminton stars, before addressing the audience and presenting the many awards.

In April 2013, the Government announced new funding of £150 million for Physical Education and sport. This funding should be used to improve the quality and breadth of PE and sport provision. The typical Primary school receives on average £9,250 a year and, schools have been very creative in which they have effectively used the funding. Initially Ofsted offered schools some examples on good use of the money, including:

Boots UK is inspiring children to protect their skin this summer and make sun safe habits that last a lifetime with the launch of the Soltan Sun Ready programme. The free sun safety education programme contains curriculum-linked teaching resources for children aged 5 – 14. Through Soltan Sun Ready, Boots UK is providing 1,000 free Explorer Packs to the first registered Primary schools, which include sun cream samples, hats and explorer notebooks. It is also running The BIG Exploration, a nationwide competition encouraging young people to get outside and have fun by searching for the country’s "most prepared adventurous explorer".

The World Wide Fund for Nature (WWF) is calling all Primary schools to take part in an Easy Peasy Pea Challenge, part of the ongoing Plant2Plate campaign. This project aims to help pupils to learn about nature and healthy eating. Any child can have a go at 'sowing, growing and showing' homegrown green peas, either in a window box or small growing patch. Every school that registers for the challenge before the end of April will receive a free Easy Peasy Pea Seed Kit. The kit includes a pack of Sugar Ann pea seeds, a simple growing guide and a tasty pea recipe card from Alpro.

Curriculum-linked play environment leaders Playforce have launched a new reward and referral scheme designed to thank loyal customers and add value, even after the playground has been installed. All Playforce schools will now receive a discounted annual Twinkl school subscription, priority booking with Sports for Schools, 10% off Playforce Shop purchases and 5% off the Playforce Care one-year inspection package.

Playground equipment providers Playforce have launched a selection of new products specifically designed to help KS1 and KS2 children to develop mathematical skills outdoors. The range of equipment, which also helps pupils to develop physical skills through climbing activities, was developed in collaboration with the Wiltshire-based company’s partner schools. Playforce offer free consultations to schools looking to find innovative ways to improve learning and play opportunities in their playgrounds.

As far back as 2008, an Ofsted report concluded that: “The first-hand experiences of learning outside the classroom can help to make subjects more vivid and interesting for pupils and enhance their understanding. It can also contribute significantly to pupils’ personal, social and emotional development.” This report evaluated the impact of learning outside the classroom in 27 schools and colleges across England. It went on to say that “Learning outside the classroom was most successful when it was an integral element of long-term curriculum planning and closely linked to classroom activities.”

I recently took a group of my students on a field trip to our local zoo here in Bangkok. This formed part of our studies on animal behaviour, a topic in Year 12 Biology. Learning in informal settings outside of the classroom, for example at zoos, museums, and galleries, is considered to be a useful way to link educational content with issues that matter to learners in their everyday lives. In this post I will outline the pre- and post-field trip activities, as well as the activities undertaken during the trip itself. Technology tools were used where appropriate to enhance the activities and the trip itself, but as should always be the case when incorporating technology,these were used to support learning rather than being the focus.

In my experience once you’ve got children outdoors digging in the soil, pulling up worms, squidging slugs and generally losing themselves in the natural world……it’s difficult to get them back indoors!

Young children are innately curious about the natural world. At Primary level, the new focus on Plants and Animals in the local environment is long overdue, and for many children this connection begins with a Minibeast topic in Foundation Stage or Year 1.

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