Outdoor Learning is an integral part of each and every child’s life at Grace Dieu. Each class has an hour’s session every week – regardless of the weather (indeed, sometimes the muddier the better!).
Our Outdoor Learning Lead, Mr Richard Pickersgill, and Forest School Trained Practitioner, Mrs Faye Burley, have boundless enthusiasm and knowledge – meaning that the outdoor sessions are often the highlight of our pupils’ week!
Our Outdoor Learning Curriculum
Our curriculum carefully blends developing outdoor knowledge and skills with a whole host of other skills that pupils can take back into the classroom – such as confidence, problem solving, and the ability to work as part of team.
Overall, our Outdoor Learning Curriculum aims to encourage pupils to:
- take beneficial risks whilst building their confidence, decision-making, creative thinking and problem solving skills
- take responsibility for their actions and learning
- develop their Emotional Intelligence
- engage with the outdoors and foster a love, respect, understanding and responsibility for our environment
Pre-Prep pupils enjoy treasure hunts, learning all about different plants and trees. They also have the chance to be creative – to take inspiration from nature. Our Outdoor Learning can also blend with the topics pupils are learning about in–class – for example when pupils have been learning about moths and predators in class, their Outdoor Learning sessions saw them discussing butterflies and their symmetry. They also tried their hand at Hapa Zome, the Japanese art of beating leaves or petals with hammers (using round stones), which pounds the natural pigment into cloth, to create a super, symmetrical mirror image!
Older pupils are able to take part in more practical activities; from building dens and using tools to solving outdoor engineering problems. They learn more about different plants and trees – or even measuring them to tie in with their Maths lessons. Much of the curriculum focuses on teamwork and problem solving – to develop their reasoning and thinking skills. For example, by playing the “sheep and shepherd game” (where ‘shepherds’ guide their group of blindfolded sheep into the pen using only a whistle) encourages clear, assertive, well-thought through communication skills, as well as trust and listening skills!
We have our own dedicated Outdoor Learning space in the forest, as well as all of our 120 acres of parkland to use and explore. Our Outdoor Classroom provides a space for when the weather is either too wet or (albeit not very often) when shade is needed! We also have an Outdoor Learning classroom, which is indoors, for when the weather is too severe (in particular, high winds) and the risks of being outside outweigh the benefits. It has a cooking area that is much-used to turn some of the produce from our Vegetable Garden into goodies to eat (beetroot brownies are a current favourite!)