Outdoor Learning is a broad term that includes discovery, experimentation, learning about and connecting to the natural world... (Institute of Outdoor Learning)
At Hathersage St. Michael's we are lucky enough to have amazing school grounds. They include many different natural habitats as well as a wide range of educational and play opportunities. We are also lucky enough to have a Forest School area, which adjoins the school grounds. These outdoor resources allow us to regularly take our learning outside and the children are able to engage in activities linked to all subjects. It is our intention:
- To make full use of our school grounds as an educational resource for all children from Nursery to Year 6.
- To involve the children in the further improvement and enhancement of our school grounds.
- To ensure all children can take part in outdoor learning on a regular basis.
- To liaise with outside agencies and to link with relevant educational initiatives and programmes run within the Peak District National Park.
- Nursery Children have a weekly Forest School Session. Children learn to be safe in the woodland and to respect the animals and plants around them. They learn how to be independent, how to work together, to play collaboratively and to respect one another.
- Reception and Year One children will have a weekly Wild Wednesday Session. The children explore the school grounds and local area through activities, story and play.
- Years 2 – 6 have a termly outdoor learning half-day session. Activities are organised either on the school grounds or within the local area.
- In addition the school grounds are used throughout the year and across the curriculum. As well as areas of mature trees, grassland and log areas, children are also involved in using the Wildlife area for pond investigation as well as a bug hotel and minibeast exploration area for invertebrate and habitat study.
- A gardening for wildlife club is run at lunchtimes when afterschool clubs are running. Children are involved in activities such as gardening, tree planting, wildflower planting, wildlife photography and making homes and feeders for wildlife.
- During the pandemic, children have been accessing the school grounds for weekly wellbeing sessions.
- This programme of outdoor learning and activities combined with the enthusiasm and hard work of the children have enabled the school to work through the Woodland Trust Green Tree Award Scheme. Our school was recently awarded the Gold Award and it is our intention to continue with this scheme and to go for platinum.
Learning outdoors has so many benefits, it helps us to learn to be responsible and interact positively with the outdoor environment. It supports the development of social skills, independence, exploration, risk taking and problem solving.
- Children are more likely to develop an appreciation and a respect for nature and wildlife.
- Outdoor learning helps children to understand that learning happens everywhere and at all times.
- Children will be more able to identify risks and hazards.
- Outdoor learning can improve children’s physical health and mental well-being.
- Outdoor learning can improve collaborative working and communication.
- Outdoor learning provides opportunities for challenge, critical thinking and problem solving in a meaningful context.
- Learning outdoors and in a less structured environment provides a different often more relaxed learning environment.
Here are an example of some of the initiatives that we have been involved with
Don't forget to get outside as much as you can. Go for daily walks or exercise. When out and about take a look at nature and enjoy the changes that happen continually.