Is funding an issue for outdoor learning training in your school?
Did you know you could use your Primary PE and Sport Premium money?
The DfE states that schools must use the funding to make additional and sustainable improvements to their quality of Physical Education, School Sport and Physical Activity (PESSPA). This means that you can use the money to:
- Develop or add to the PESSPA activities that your school already offers
- Build capacity and capability within the school to ensure that improvements made now will benefit those joining the school in the future.
The DfE guidance includes the 5 key indicators, across which schools should demonstrate an improvement.
Due to disruption caused by Covid-19 the DfE has given permission for schools to ‘carry over’ any underspend and according to current guidance this must be reported on by 31st March 2021.
Schools must publish the amount of Primary PE and Sport Premium received for this year 2020/21; a full breakdown of how it has been spent (or will be spent); what impact the school has seen on pupils’ Physical Education, School Sport and Physical Activity, participation and attainment and how the improvements will be sustainable in the future.
So, how does outdoor learning fit in to this?
Key indicator 1: The engagement of all pupils in regular physical activity – Chief Medical Officers guidelines recommend that primary school pupils undertake at least 30 minutes of physical activity a day in school
Adopting a whole school approach to outdoor learning will enable pupils to spend more time participating in active learning. Outdoor learning provides a bridge to the curriculum, which incorporates physical activity. Research shows that the benefits for physical activity include cognitive health, with evidence indicating enhanced executive control, improved academic performance, and adaption in underlying brain structure and function. Children running in an orienteering activity to find key words or playing number games on the playground are naturally being physically active. If all the teachers in the school are providing more opportunities for children to learn outdoors, then it is more likely children will achieve or exceed the recommended 30 minutes.
Key indicator 2: The profile of PESSPA being raised across the school as a tool for whole school improvement
After working with schools, reviewing research and developing training, we identified the support required for outdoor learning to have a positive impact. Firstly, it needs to be a whole school approach, with SLT onboard, integrated into raising standards agendas and it has to have strong curriculum links. Secondly, teachers need to be given the permission, confidence and the skills to know why and how to take the curriculum outdoors. How do you teach music or DT? How could you teach these subjects outdoors? Providing high quality planning with continuity and progression is always important. The National Curriculum Outdoors Schemes of Work will support teachers to teach every subject. Monitoring impacts can also be a barrier so we can share with you some teacher friendly assessment options. Taking the Curriculum Outdoors: A whole School Approach online training provides opportunities to addresses these areas. The training alongside the Outdoor Learning Co-ordinator file; which includes helpful examples documents, such as policies/ procedures and pupil questionnaires, will provide everything you need to successfully implement outdoor learning in your school.
Both adults and children alike tend to be less stressed, calmer and more physically active outside. Natural light is proven to help out children’s eye health. Uneven surfaces help to develop fine and gross motor skills, coordination and balance. Children are able to concentrate better indoors after they’ve spent time outside. Surely, these issues are more important than ever before when we consider the transition back to schools from Covid 19?
Key indicator 3: Increased confidence, knowledge and skills of all staff
Taking the Curriculum Outdoors: A Whole School Approach provides an opportunity for outdoor learning to be developed in schools as a differentiated, high quality, active learning approach across all year groups. The training is designed for the whole school to attend and it allows time for lots of discussion, hands-on activities and encourages the school to identify their goals and intentions. It has been created by a teacher for teachers and can be used in the smallest of settings to the largest woodland.
The online training includes:
- Introduction video explaining how the training works.
- Unit 1 – What is outdoor learning and what are the benefits?
- Unit 2 – Safety and Routines
- Unit 3 – Curriculum Planning
- Unit 4 – Monitoring Impacts and Next Steps
It’s by creating this agreed understanding and linking it to raising standards agendas that integrated outdoor learning becomes a sustainable ‘normal part’ of teaching and learning.
Key indicator 4: Broader experience of a range of sports and activities offered to all pupils
There are so many options when it comes to moving traditional static learning to an outdoor environment. The whole school online training will provide you with some ideas for curriculum links and we are currently working with experts like Dr Katherine Forsey (outdoor learning/STEM ambassador) and Debbie Lambert the author of The National Curriculum Outdoors books to provide more support and ideas for curriculum linked outdoor activities. Key skills from sports can also be integrated into learning through additional resources such as Tagtiv8 or Dragonball from the Sammy Rambles books. There are also opportunities to develop key life skills, such as co-operation and resilience. These skills are not only transferable to sport, but they are also useful to refer to in the classroom when pupils are applying their knowledge or learning new concepts.
Key indicator 5: Increased participation in competitive sport
Outdoor learning and connection to an outdoor environment has been proven to improve well- being. With improved well-being and general physical fitness for a more active style of learning, children can gain confidence which can result in them trying new things like competitive sport. Studies have also shown that where outdoor learning has been successfully implemented in schools the overall pupil attendance has increased.
With so many benefits, funding opportunities and whole school online training options, outdoor learning is now more accessible than ever before. So, spread the word to colleagues. Start asking questions. Has your Primary PE and Sports Premium money been spent? Who is leading outdoor learning in your school? Have you got an outdoor learning specialist in your school? If not, then why not? Let’s get more schools teaching outdoors, utilising their school grounds, improving teaching/learning, well-being and physical fitness.
Other funding options
If your Primary PE and Sports Premium funding isn’t available then there may be other options.
Juliet Robertson from Creative Star Learning has just update her grants and funding inks for outdoor learning and play. Here’s the link.
Let’s make learning active and fun!