Transforming Your School Grounds for Outdoor Learning
We at SOuL wanted to share with our readers the transformative potential of outdoor learning. This last few weeks has been a busy and exciting time for us as we’ve been involved in some hugely rewarding projects at Haberdasher’s Askes’, Twyford and Dolphin Schools.
To most busy teachers, walking outside the classroom can be a daunting place. Despite the fact that many schools we visit have extensive and beautiful grounds. To use it wisely in order to enrich curriculum learning often requires a teacher to step outside of the their comfort zone and do something less familiar. What do I do? Where do I do it? These seem to be the most common questions we come across with the teachers and schools we work with.
Dolphin School, in Berkshire, has been asking these questions for a while and, with a little help from us, is finding great solutions. Their outdoor learning area was in need of some development to bring it to its full potential. An all weather teaching hub or go-to place is often essential to support teachers in getting outside. Time can then be utilised in an efficient manner with a structured teaching space and the required resources such as writing materials, equipment and resources, a storage facility and visual aids (such as specially made blackboards).
The transformation of school grounds is a wonderful metaphor for the even grander transformation of staff teams when provided with an outdoor environment and plenty of support and permission to be creative.
We’ve recently experienced seismic shifts amongst the most sceptical and traditional teachers towards an outdoor approach which enriches their teaching. Many of the barriers and blocks to outdoor learning such as time, money and resources can be overcome with some simple, yet powerful solutions.
We asked Haberdashers Askes last week to nominate a working party of 5 passionate teachers to keep track of resources and keep outdoor learning on the school meeting agenda (in fact we got 10 in the end). We were able to provide them with a host of lesson plans through our LOC handbook and equipment with our Arbojo packs to bolster their initial forays outside the classroom.
Places to go where I can create structure to my teaching, great activities that add real value to my students’ learning, as well as time to provide a meaningful learning experience (as well as my own time to adjust and adapt) is often all that teachers are looking for. Perfectly reasonable we think!