The staff had a fantastic training day on Monday when the company that installed the canopy returned to show us how every single subject can be taught in a slightly different way outside. Using the canopy as a hub or focal point we ventured out to try some tree art, played spelling games on giant grids drawn on to tarpaulins, learnt Morse code and semaphore and participated in numerous maths activities involving ropes and pegs.

To me, the big advantage of learning outside is that it is more physical, more interactive and more inclusive. We toured around a number of sites where different activities had been set up, before going head to head with another group in some light-hearted competition. There was a great deal of laughter and even the most sceptical agreed that they had come away with some ideas that could be adapted or used in their class.

This doesn’t mean that the majority of lessons will now take place outside, but what we are trying to do is gradually to get the children out of the classroom and into the fresh air experiencing the excitement of outdoor learning. To do this we need to accumulate a wide range of teaching aids including ropes of various lengths and thickness, tarpaulins that are light enough to draw grids on, different coloured string, tent pegs and plastic pegs, bamboo canes, pipes and guttering and buckets. This will all take time to collect, but as we gather more and more equipment, so the options for outdoor learning will increase. Gradually we will be able to add another dimension to the children’s education here and this is really exciting. Indeed already some of the activities that were tried on the training day have been put into practice with the children and a small sub-committee of staff has been put together to ensure that the momentum that was established on Monday is maintained.

The snow over the holidays was great fun. The school always looks magical, but when everywhere is wrapped in a blanket of snow it just adds something to the vista. Although I have always said that it should snow on Christmas Eve and vanish on New Year’s Day, a bit more snow in the next few weeks would not be a disaster!
JG
11.i.15