At Glenmead, we consider outdoor and adventurous activity part of our curriculum. We have built it into our curriculum because we understand its importance for developing key areas of learning. Our practitioners work hard to include this important aspect of our pupils' learning journey right from their very first days in school.
How we include outdoor and adventurous activity in our curriculum
Using the outdoor learning spaces in Early Years Foundation Stage is part of our everyday practice. We have a specifically designed outdoor space developed and designed for our youngest pupils.
The children practice moving and handling materials and objects, both large and small. This helps them to move towards attaining a Good Level of Development. Prime and Specific areas of learning are practiced and embedded outdoors and pupils are given the opportunity to explore the outdoor spaces during free flow.
At playtimes and lunchtimes the children are encouraged to explore and experience all the outdoor spaces we have on our very varied school campus. They have opportunities to climb and clamber on our trim trails. They have opportunities to problem solve and work collaboratively by using some of our large outdoor equipment, games and activities.
As pupils move up the school, they are given opportunities to engage in Forest Schools. With such beautifully green spaces on our campus, we engage our young people in develop a range of skills and experiences including:
- Emotional development. Periods of reflection are important parts of all forest school sessions and help children to expand their emotional vocabulary and understand how they feel (emotional intelligence).
- Spiritual development. This is not necessarily religious, but refers to having a sense of belonging to the wider world, being part of something bigger than yourself, and your connection to nature.
- Intellectual development. Knowledge is provided in context with situations as they arise and creates a thirst for learning.
- Social development. Consistent meetings with the same group of children means that social connection is gained through shared experiences and goals. Children are able to choose whether to work together or separately.
- Physical development. Both fine motor skills and gross motor skills are developed in the outdoor environment, as well as stamina and positive experiences in ‘bad’ weather.
- Communication and language development. Working together encourages communication and develops skilful expression of thoughts and ideas, as well as the ability to listen to others. Reflection activities increase a child’s ability to understand and describe their internal state, wants and needs.
Pupils are given the opportunity to experience time away from home at outdoor education centres throughout their years in Key Stage 2. The first of these is an overnight stay at Woodlands in Year 3 and the second comes later in Key Stage 2, when the children make a 4 night stay at an Outward Bound centre: Aberdovey in Snowdonia.
These residential experiences involve adventurous activity in rural locations that offer a complete contrast to life in a large city. Working alongside qualified instructors, the children can experience a range of activities that challenge them physically and emotionally; building team work and personal resilience. They discover new skills, self confidence and independence.