St Martins C of E Primary and Nursery in Exeter has demonstrated its versatility and creativity in using its space in a number of ways for the benefits of the student in core curriculum areas.
A science focus comes from students making their own compost from their waste food, and using it in the outdoor area for the benefit of the environment. The children plant acorns to grow trees for the school site from the compost too. A love of maths and greater understanding comes from writing brightly coloured numbers on painted stones and wood slices, and creating their own addition and subtraction activities from them. Shapes, sizes and lengths are explored form the materials around them. The English curriculum is supported with activities like treasure hunts and den building in the outdoor area; encouraging the children’s imagination and connection with books they are reading in class.Thoughts and emotions are regularly explored too with the children asked how the outdoor area makes them feel.
St Martins also show a love for their outdoor space more widely too; with forest school sessions, open fire cooking, as well as growing (and selling!) fruit, vegetables and flowers! – It is evident from this nomination that children have lots of fun while still learning!
Kidz@Work, Sheffield Business Park is used for a variety of different activities, by a range of different aged children from birth up to 5 in term time and also from 5- 12 years old in half terms.
Children have the opportunity to explore a range of sensory activities through gardening in the herb garden, vegetable patch and vegetable pots and children are encouraged to cook with the nursery grown produce too. The impressive vegetable patch is looked after by the children, who every week in the ‘seedlings club’ weed the garden, water the plants and plant new vegetables at the correct time of the year. The small pond is ready for frog spawn and a recently created bug hotel is a firm favourite (and a source of immense pride for the preschool rooms).
The outdoor area is designed with the children ideas and decisions in mind and Kidz@Work run a small club called ‘Children champion’ where the children are given opportunities to select the resources they would like in the outdoor areas. It was evident from this nomination that the children really enjoy their outdoor time.Indent copy as below
The Red Squirrel Children’s Nursery in Dundee based was a strong advocate for the benefit of outdoor play and learning; and passionate in their belief that the natural environment offers a unique limitless supply of resources to promote creativity, investigation, imagination and problem solving.
A Forest School ‘camp’ area in a woodland area was set up and natural resources are at the heart of the setting and displaying these materials in an inviting way they say helped encourage and promote self-directed investigation, creativity and problem solving.
Children are openly encouraged to challenge themselves in physical activities as they feel safe to do so. Safety is a key learning at the camp too – with children risk assessing the Forest School camp and giving them responsibility of ‘fire marshals’. Nursery children are encouraged to construct and creatively utilise the natural environment and resources too, and art is also on the agenda.
The school say that through an abundance of creative play, children have developed confidence and resilience along with the skills needed to communicate their feelings – the number of testimonials in this nomination are evidence of the camp’s impact.
Ridgeway School have had a total refurbishment of the outside spaces for its two classrooms that accommodate children with profound and multiple disabilities – and it’s described as being revolutionary for those children.
With site clearance, the addition of astro-turf, movable equipment and canopies to ensure access in all weathers, the children are now able to play and learn outside. The spaces were used for lots of different physical activities and enabled wider learning to take place too; with teachers now able to take learning resources outside and sit under the canopies for activities.
Ridgeway School says it is now able to meet its duties within the equality act, provide a safe, engaging and physically stimulating environment for all of its pupils, regardless of their needs – a project that has had a phenomenal impact across the whole school community.
Joseph Paxton Campus in the Wirral caters for students with hidden disabilities such as poor mental health and students diagnosed with the autistic spectrum disorder, attention deficit disorder and other complex mental health issues. With many students finding it challenging to face the outside world, the school uses its outside space to help students build real life skills. The act of digging soil and planting is very therapeutic, the patience required to wait for things to grow is an important life skill. A student with an eating disorder can be encouraged to handle plants and learn how to cook healthy food by participating in the use of the school’s garden. Students with low self-esteem are given the resilience and grit to start to believe in themselves.
The school summer house is also a welcome sanctuary for students who need some ‘time out’ and the sensory aspects of the garden provide a calm and alternative sensory space for students that are on the autistic spectrum.
The school also has a programme of enterprise and work related learning events, as well as links with ECO schools and the DoE scheme. The school is clearly focused on offering a large number of outdoor based activities. Current projects include wicker weaving; teaching the students new creative skills whilst promoting social interaction and community awareness – many diverse projects that have had phenomenal impact across the whole school community.