Institute of Outdoor Learning (2018):
‘At a time when we are increasingly concerned about the physical and emotional wellbeing of our children and young people, and question whether they will leave education with the skills and competencies they will need for the future, outdoor learning brings with it a range of benefits which are now widely evidenced, acknowledged and accepted.’
All staff here at Otterham School understand the importance of taking our learning outside as often as possible. As adults, when we reflect upon our own education, we tend to recall with more clarity the outdoor experiences we had compared with our time inside. This is likely to be school trips, residentials or what playtimes were like. In addition, the practical subjects, such as art, home economics and woodwork, and what you learned in these classes, have probably stuck in your memory bank more than which aspect of maths you were working on in January of Year 5. With this in mind, integrating practical, creative and outdoor experiences into our ordinary, everyday school lives is a route to profoundly changing children’s memories and perceptions of the learning that happens.
The evidence is growing year on year for the benefits of learning and playing outside, particularly when this happens in a natural space. It is no longer simply a ‘jolly good thing’ to do. There is a fundamental shift happening in education as we recognise that our mainstream schools need to be more responsive to children and the complex world in which they live. We now have a greater understanding of how children learn and what they need in their lives to help them gain the emotional resilience and flexibility to cope with what life will throw at them.
Here at Otterham children are taught outside for at least one afternoon a week and as a staff we are actively seeking to increase this time allocation using a scheme of work purchased to support both teachers and Teaching Assistants deliver a series of progressive lessons linked to objectives within a curriculum area. The resource is simply called, ‘The National Curriculum Outdoors.’ There is a complete scheme of work for KS1 and then for every year group in KS2.
As Billy Connolly once said,
‘There is no such thing as the wrong weather, only the wrong clothes.’
Let’s get outside!