Hey Teacher, Leave Them Kids Outdoors
Stoke Hill Junior School has seen very strong improvements in both the academic and mental health of its learners since designing a programme to teach ‘indoor’ subjects outdoors, including Maths, Science, History, Geography, Music and Art.
“Traditionally outdoor schooling focused on PE, outdoor adventure and forest school skills such as whittling and fire building – all of which are brilliant,” says the teacher responsible for developing ‘The Curriculum in the Outdoors at Stoke Hill’, Mr Charlie Poustie.
He says even more benefits can be gained however by actually teaching mainstream curriculum subjects outdoors too, “especially during these tricky pandemic times where children can find themselves locked into increasingly insular and often online lives”.
“You can teach pretty much anything you would normally teach indoors, in an outdoor environment,” he says citing one example of a Year Three class that he was teaching the concept of two dimensional shapes to.
“We held that class on the playground, put the 30 children into teams, gave each team a 5m ribbon and asked them to make three sided shapes with that. Each team had a whiteboard and marker pen and had to write down what they had done to make the shape.”
Head of the Junior School, Jamie Sullivan, says having the children working in the outdoors works on so many different levels.
“The language and communication between the learners changes completely to what you see in a classroom. Their motivation and enthusiasm increases. The level of teamwork and learning from their peers is excellent and you also see an improvement in all children’s engagement with their learning. Physiologically and psychologically it works.
Stoke Hill Junior school has developed a full programme of six week blocks covering the curriculum, for the Junior School, where each class gets two hours a week outdoors. Teachers from both Junior and Infant School actively participate in lessons outside and are looking forward to future collaborations.
The Federation would be delighted to help facilitate the programme into the wider River Exe Learning Partnership which includes Ladysmith Federation, Newtown Primary, Topsham School, Pinhoe Primary, St Sidwells Primary and Trinity School – and will happily share their learnings and experience with other schools across Devon and beyond. So if you think this is something you could implement in a school you work in or that your children attend, just get in touch.
It is possible, even in a limited space, to get an activity focused programme of study going outdoors.
“Ask any child, they love it!”
For more information please contact Charlie Poustie at firstname.lastname@example.org
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This manageable there and back route offers easy walking and wheeling along the eastern side of the reservoir and to the dams, plus additional access to the wildlife trail in the Burrator Arboretum