Today we welcome our first guest blogger. Sarah Wordlaw is a primary teacher from Christ Church School in Brixton who is delighted with the success of her class’s outdoor learning. She joins us as a guest blogger to tell us more about it …
“Christ Church School is a vibrant primary in the heart of Brixton which offers a nurturing and engaging learning environment for all children. Unusual for an inner city school, it has a large wooded area, set aside for stimulating lessons that range from Mathematics to Art. Christ Church is a Forest School and a Natural Thinkers School, which means we have staff specially trained to utilise the outdoor environment to maximise learning opportunities. Christ Church staff helped develop the Natural Thinkers curriculum for Lambeth, and as a school we are a centre of expertise for schools across the borough. It means that children can access a range of activities from a mud-kitchen and sand and water play in KS1, to digging and planting areas where all children (KS2) can use gardening tools to encourage an interest in gardening, the outdoors and their environment. What sets us apart from most schools who do Forest School programmes, is that our curriculum allows children from Nursery right the way to Year 6 to learn and investigate at the appropriate challenging level!
Come rain or shine, children put all-weather gear on and go outside to develop life skills including problem-solving, team-building and communication. Activities vary from ‘walking the plank’ teamwork games, to developing and looking after animals and insects that dwell in the specially built bug hotel in the outdoor areas. We are also lucky enough to benefit from a Rooftop Garden, with a pond, bee-hotel and bespoke pizza oven, made by the children. Children learn where food comes from; the process of planting, looking after and harvesting, which is of particular relevance given the recent developments in the new curriculum around outside learning. To grow your own herbs for pizza, and then cook them outside brings a real life element to the journey from field to table.
“I adore the roof garden because you get to see how plants grow, and then eat them in a pizza!” A year 5 girl.
The outside offers a wealth of different opportunities to explore other areas of the curriculum. Counting berries and creating 3D shapes to develop maths skills, categorising different types of leaves and designing and building effective shelters utilising natural materials and investigating life cycles of flora and fauna are just a few examples of this. It is revealing how effective and empowering outdoor lessons can be, allowing some individuals the opportunity to shine by overcoming language or social barriers. We are committed to this outdoor learning because we see the results; children gaining confidence and improving their academic progress.”
Everyone at Earwig loves Christ Church’s innovative teaching method and the great photos produced – what Ofsted inspector wouldn’t be impressed with those?
If you’d like to be a guest blogger – get in touch, email@example.com.