“The outdoors is the best classroom; for nature is a tool to allow children to explore and experience, not just the wider world, but themselves.” Miss Watson, Outdoor Learning and Development Leader
At Meadowbank primary school, we offer rich, deep and meaningful learning experiences through our outdoor environment aimed at empowering the children to have a lasting legacy. We believe in providing the children with the skills to be leaders of change: building resilience; communication and oracy; teamwork; independence; and the ability to take on a leadership role. Our children will explore and discover a world beyond the classroom, challenging their thinking, building their cultural capital and allowing them to appreciate their place within their community. We will encourage the children to build their self-esteem and confidence, through challenge and risk taking whilst learning in the outdoors, empowering them to take this learning with them beyond the classroom and into their world. Our aim for our children is that they appreciate the great outdoors and embrace the endless exploring and learning opportunities it offers.
- To encourage children to explore a world beyond the classroom, building the skills to be a leader of change in society.
- To embed oracy skills through discussion as part of a team and opportunities to discuss successes and problem solving to overcome difficulties.
- To inspire children to build their resilience, learning from taking risks in a safe environment.
- To work successfully as part of a team, understanding and appreciating how to work collaboratively.
- To build self-esteem and confidence by challenging our ability to work beyond the classroom.
- To enable every child to gain an appreciation of the outdoors, learning to love nature and embrace the endless exploring and learning opportunities it delivers.
The Outdoor Learning and Development Leader has a strong understanding of the EYFS curriculum, and the seven areas of learning and development that shape the educational programmes in our Early Years Foundation Stage. All areas of learning and development are important and inter-connected, and the experiences, opportunities and activities which are planned enable children to develop a broad range of knowledge and skills that provide the right foundations for good future progress through school and life.
Outdoor Learning and Development at Meadowbank encompasses a cross curricular approach, underpinned by our progressive subject curriculum skills, knowledge and vocabulary maps, ensuring a broad and balanced variety of learning opportunities throughout each year group. Each child engages with the outdoors through purposeful learning experiences, planned for using a layered approach of curriculum learning or more bespoke therapeutic groups. As a school, children are exposed to using the outdoors to further their thinking and understanding of themselves and the world around them. Our children also know the importance of maintaining their health and well-being through the outdoor opportunities they are immersed in. The children engage with daily experiences designed to build their physical experiences during the day: the daily dash; Meadowbank mile; Balanceability; gardening; exploration of outdoor learning environment and engagement with activities led by sports coaches. It is the role of adults to facilitate discussion, empowering children to ask meaningful questions and challenge others thinking, which will continually develop their social skills, encouraging them to flourish throughout their Meadowbank journey and beyond.
To offer a more bespoke therapeutic approach, learners are facilitated by the role of adults to build the core skills of outdoor development: building resilience; communication and oracy; teamwork; independence; and the ability to take on a leadership role. The children feel empowered by being accustomed to the structure of our therapeutic sessions. Having the opportunity to check in with their peers, immersing themselves within an activity to build the core skills, reflecting on achievements and problem solving challenges and utilising oracy skills to make self-assurance statements about themselves.
Our lunchtime offer, supported through the continual professional empowerment of our Midday Team, also embeds our core principles of outdoor development. There is a sense that this time for the children is a continued learning opportunity and the value of the outdoors is reinforced. Aspects of our curriculum is mirrored during lunchtime, with activities continuing to be child led and relevant to the interests and desires of our children.
Learning Environment and Immersion
To ensure our children become Life Long Learners, we ensure an inclusive environment, with meaningful, hands on experiences included within. We encourage the children to explore the great outdoors, building their cultural capital and building core skills applicable in our world. Children become leaders of change, through taking on the roles and responsibilities within our school environment: understanding how to maintain our school grounds and take care of the things that they plant and grow. Outdoor learning is embedded within Foundation Stage, our Meadow Room and across Year 3, allowing children to access learning and development opportunities through continuous provision across the day. Oracy is a key driver too, with children empowered to articulate their own ideas and lead their own discussions about their learning, and sharing their best practice.
Assessment for Learning
The impact of Outdoor Development is assessed through our whole curriculum, through the use of the progression of skills and knowledge maps and the impact outdoor experiences have upon the learning behaviours of our children. The curriculum planning journals are used to inform the medium term planning and learning journey for each half term and key concepts are identified that link to the ‘big question’ in each year group. Learning experiences are also child led, incorporating children’s voice through the use of questions, interests and opportunities they feel are relevant and meaningful to them.
Monitoring and review
The Outdoor Development leader is responsible for the rigorous monitoring of this area of learning through planning looks, children’s agency, lesson pop ins and whole school CPE. Ongoing analysis of outcomes linking to the wider curriculum enables the Outdoor Development leader to identify vulnerable groups of children across school and support staff in enabling children within these groups to make accelerated progress. When vulnerable children are identified, more personalised ‘strengths and areas for development questionnaires’ are completed to refine our offer to the children and ensure our therapeutic program is bespoke to them. Our children are involved in this monitoring process in a number of ways across the academic year. Children are empowered to talk about their learning through the curriculum planning journals and their own experiences during pupil voice opportunities. Our children can talk about their learning and how it links and connects to other areas of the curriculum and wider world.