Ryton Junior School
“It gives me a sense of freedom that you can’t get in a classroom.”
“I’d love to be out here more often. I have found my place of peace.”
“I like being taught in the wildlife area – its lots of fun without all the worries. You sit back and relax and let nature take you away into your imagination and do whatever it wants to do.”
Ryton Junior School had taken part in a couple of Creative Partnership projects to develop areas of their school grounds, but found that the outside space was still not being used as much as they had hoped. A programme of support was developed in consultation with the Head and Deputy Head teachers at the school, the overall aim being to support the staff in developing and embedding outdoor teaching and learning in their curriculum.
An initial twilight training session was held to introduce the benefits of teaching and learning outside and experience some simple outdoor learning activities. The session also considered barriers to outdoor learning (real and perceived), and explored ways of overcoming these.
This was followed up with teachers from each year group meeting with Anita for an afternoon to look at their planning for the current term and consider how outdoor activities and resources could be developed and used to support and enhance their existing curriculum.
The teachers then had several weeks to develop their outdoor teaching further, try out a range of activities, and monitor and evaluate not only how they went, but also the impact on the pupils’ experiences and learning.
A final twilight session gave everyone an opportunity to review progress, feedback and share ideas (including running sessions for each other), and discuss and agree ways of sharing good practice and how to continue to embed outdoor learning in the curriculum.
This “Plan, Do, Review” approach had a number of benefits:
- Teachers learning in their individual, immediate teaching environments;
- Curriculum planning tailored to support their short term delivery requirements;
- Teachers challenged but supported and able to try things out at their own pace;
- Additional planning time allowed staff to discuss and develop their own ideas with each other and an external facilitator/advisor;
- Issues and potential barriers were raised and addressed throughout the process, although many turned out to be perceived rather than real!
The outcomes included:
- Increased understanding amongst the staff of the potential for taking the curriculum outside;
- Increased confidence to try out new things;
- A very positive impact on the children in terms of the quality of the work they produced and understanding of concepts they were learning;
- General enjoyment all round!