Lucy Jenkinson, from Grendon CE Primary School in Northamptonshire, has written about her experience as an Outdoor Learning Co-ordinator.
My role as an Outdoor Learning Co-ordinator is undefined and changes all of the time. The role was initially an extension to my work as PE co-ordinator. Physical activity/exercise was already something that influenced my teaching and as a school, we were delivering highly engaging indoor learning environments and many opportunities for participation in competitive sport. Leading ‘Outdoor Learning’ was an exciting opportunity to combine the value of being active outdoors with high quality teaching.
We started with an aim and a plan!
Our first aim was to understand the difference between a ‘lesson-taught-outside’ and an ‘outdoor-learning-lesson’. The difference between ‘using work-books leaning on clipboards on the grass’ and ‘using the outdoors as a resources for exploration and learning’. As we became more confident, we began to share our teaching ideas (successful and not!) and discovered that both approaches were important. We found that maths and phonics were taught outdoors most regularly although many science and geography sessions were also successful.
We started off with very little but have grown a basic and solid selection of resources over time. After a first term of keeping sticks in random trays shoved into classroom corners, we developed our vision of ‘The Outdoor Storage Shed…so much more than a shed’. After fundraising efforts and support from our Parent’s Fundraising committee, we were able to build The Woodland Hideout. This structure provided outdoor storage for our resources and a seated area. It also has pegs to hang coats and boxes for wellies, is heated and fitted with lighting.
Resources used daily: Large sticks and canes, small twigs, stones, large pebble, logs, chalks, (LOTS OF CHALKS!)
Resources to have just in case: den making resources (hessian, ground sheets, pegs, string)
One off resources purchased worth the money: Outdoor structure for storage and seating, A4 MDF boards painted with phonics sounds.
We would like to thank Lucy for her blog post.
If you are an outdoor learning co-ordinator for your school or you are invloved in outdoor learning we would love to hear from you to compare your experiences and inspire others to get outdoors. Please get in touch.