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Learning outside the classroom

A Centre of Excellence for Outdoor Learning

At Kendall we believe in Learning Outside the Classroom (LOtC), with a focus on making the most of opportunities for outdoor learning, and the benefits this has for all of our children. Outdoor learning isn’t a subject or topic; it’s a powerful way of teaching. Natural Connections has shown that it’s possible for school grounds and local green spaces to be used regularly to support teaching and learning across the curriculum. At Kendall we can see that it delivers many benefits for pupils and staff.   The Transforming Outdoor Learning in Schools: Lessons from the Natural Connections Project booklet provides an introduction to the value and impact of well-planned regular outdoor learning. While it is aimed primarily at school staff, it gives parents and other stakeholders ‘a compelling introduction to the value and impact of well-planned regular outdoor learning for pupils, teachers and schools as a whole’.

Throughout the project key findings included:

 

  Our own 5 Year Vision for School Development can be seen below:


  10 Reasons why we believe in Learning Outside the Classroom!

  1. We make learning more engaging

It can be difficult to keep children on task in the classroom. As Sir Ken Robinson says “If you sit kids down hour after hour doing low grade clerical work, don’t be surprised if they start to fidget” (TED Talks Education), especially as the school year draws to an end and the weather is nice outside and all they want to do is run around like mad things! So we take learning outside and let them do just that!  We take all subject outside, for example, among other things, in maths the children have made fraction bars with found natural objects, found trees with the biggest circumference, and measured angles drawn in chalk on the playground. In history our children have made wattle and daub walls (using the traditional materials of woven hazel, mud and horse manure!) and have carved and smelted their own arrow metal. In science our children have investigated melting and evaporation over the fire and investigated habitats and living things. They have also gained a respect for the environment and see themselves as being responsible for the world created by God and know that they have to make their own decisions about how to do this.

  2. We make learning relevant

By taking learning beyond the classroom we provide opportunities to make learning concepts real and relevant by putting them into a more realistic context.  Many concepts which seem too difficult to get a grasp of in the classroom are a lot easier to understand in the big wide world when they’re set in context, and when the children are more engaged and motivated to understand and learn.


  3. We nurture creativity and imagination

Taking our young people beyond the classroom is like unclipping their wings. Suddenly their minds are free to explore and we can often end up with some very creative results no matter what subject we are teaching them. For example, instead of learning about Viking long boats in the classroom our children replicate them in the woodland and use them to act in role!  You’d be amazed at how our pupil’s imaginations run wild. 


  4. Develop learning through play and experimentation

We all know that children learn more when they’re happy and engaged.  It’s amazing just how much they can learn through playing.  You can bet that the young people who did the role play in the long boats will remember heaps about what life was like for their Viking characters.  Experimenting is also a fantastic way to learn – very young children learn a huge amount about volume and textures by simple things like sand and water play, whilst older children will enjoy becoming nature detectives and learning about mini-beasts and their habitats.



  5. Improve attendance

We have built outside play and learning, as well as trip and visits, into our curriculum to engage and motivate our pupils to learn, we are inevitably finding that our young people are more motivated to turn up to school.


  6. Reduce behaviour problems

Whilst learning beyond the classroom has certainly meant implementing a whole new set of behaviour management processes, on the whole it has led to improvement in behaviour, especially those children who find some aspects of mainstream education challenging – this has been yet another consequence of children being happy, engaged and motivated.  


  7. Develop interest in the environment and wider surroundings

Learning outside can give us a great opportunity to teach our pupils about the environment and about our local area.  This is an important part of developing our young people as responsible citizens, which can be difficult to convey in the classroom. Currently our pupil led Eco – School committee are involving the whole school in the development of our grounds, how to increase biodiversity, addressing the ongoing problem of litter (although it would appear some of our resident wildlife is to blame for this!) among other projects. For more information about Eco- School status click here.

  8. Expose children to new opportunities

Learning outside the classroom doesn’t just mean using our amazing school grounds, though this has been a great place to start and is now an integral part of our Learning Outside the Classroom curriculum. There is also no end of places we take the pupils that they might not get access to otherwise. We have visited museums in London, Essex and Suffolk, Colchester Zoo, Colchester’s Castle, local supermarkets and even Anglian Water’s sewage recycling centre! We believe that these trips and visits provide learning experiences that won’t be forgotten fast.

  9. Keep healthy

Even if we’re just going to work a few feet from the confines of our classroom, our well-directed outdoor learning opportunities offer a great opportunity for fresh air and exercise.  Even pupils who aren’t much interested in PE can usually be tempted by a fun learning game without the pressure of needing to ‘win’. 


  10. Enjoy almost limitless resources

One of the key benefits of learning outside is that we have the most amazingly well resourced stock cupboard you could hope for – and a lot of it is free.  No matter how tight our school’s budget, using our creativity and imagination we are able to develop free, meaningful learning opportunities for our children that will stick with them.