We all know that 2020 has been a very bizarre year and we are heading on a course of making a new ‘normal’. Wouldn’t it be great if outdoor learning was a part of this trend as children return to school?
Why is outdoor learning only utilised in a few schools?
There are so many benefits to interacting with an outdoor environment and we wanted teachers to have the opportunity to utilise their outdoor space and experience the benefits for themselves. Outdoor learning is not a new concept but it is often only a limited number of schools who integrate it successfully. The reasons for this may include:
- School budgets are limited so spending between £250 to £650 for one member of staff is difficult to justify
- One member of staff has been trained as an outdoor learning practitioner but they have left the school
- One member of staff has been trained but is struggling to get other teachers on board. They are the only ones who do outdoor learning consistently
- A perception that you can’t integrate outdoor learning if you don’t have acres of open space and a forest.
- A perception that curriculum timetables are already overloaded and we can’t possibly fit anymore in.
Integrating outdoor learning successfully
You get the idea, right? As a teacher trying to implement outdoor learning in my own school I faced all of these challenges. I soon began to ask questions; we are all teachers, we can all teach so what do I need to do to break down the barriers to use our outdoor area as a learning space? Why are my colleagues asking me to take their class for outdoor learning sessions? Why can’t they do it?
The answers were simple:
- We need confidence, to do what we always do but just do it outdoors
- Acceptance from senior management that we are ‘allowed’ to teach outdoors
- A whole team approach where ideas are shared regularly
- Change of routines and a knowledge that we are working safely
- Accessible resources
- Teachers needed to have a go for themselves to see the benefits and value in teaching outdoors.
Once we addressed these issues we began to see a whole school approach and I remember walking around school one day and most of the classrooms were empty. It became a part of what we did and the benefits were visible for all to see.
I’ve since worked with many schools sharing this knowledge and helping them to overcome the barriers we did and successfully integrate outdoor learning. However, I still had enquires from schools across the country and worldwide but I couldn’t always physically support them in person.
This played on my mind for a while until the COVID pandemic when everything went online and Zoom meetings were a part of a normal working day. That was the answer, online training! That is how Taking the Curriculum Outdoors – A Whole School Approach was developed.
We now offer an affordable whole school approach to outdoor learning, which has been specifically designed for each school to deliver and implement at a time to suit their CPD schedule.
- Detailed guidance for the person leading the training, including a reflective action plan.
- Each unit consists of a training video, discussion and reflection tasks, as well as activity sessions outdoors.
- Includes supporting documents.
- Designed so that participating schools can easily work through the units at a pace that suits their overall CPD schedule.
- Video Introducing the training and how it 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 is so exciting that this is the first (as far as we know) comprehensive training package that will enable you to sustainably integrate outdoor learning in your school!
We are not stopping there!
We want to be able to support you on your journey as much as possible and have lots more collaborative projects in the pipeline. Here are just a few:
- Outdoor Learning Co-ordinator documents file
- Outdoor Learning Magazine with a KS2 focus
- Focused activity plans with progression of skills
- Resource reviews
- Collaborations with horticultural therapists, play therapists, mental health experts…
The list goes on and we are looking forward to supporting you to create a whole child approach and a creative educational experience for each child and teacher in your school.
If you need any support on your outdoor learning journey or would like to share your success please get in touch.