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Building confidence in outdoor learning

Wednesday, 11 July 2018
Ama Chaney, Grow to School

This year has seen Grow to School develop and offer our CPD courses to a wider range of teachers than ever before. In our mission to share our practice and to get as many teachers outside as possible we have refined our ‘Building confidence in outdoor learning’ course to make it even more accessible to teaching staff across the Early Years Foundation Stage (EFYS) and primary sector. 

Through our own experience and feedback from teachers we have worked in partnership with, we are aware of the many barriers that can put teachers off taking their class outside. During the training each issue is dealt with offering a variety of tips and tricks to get even the most reluctant members of staff outside – and enjoying it!  

The day course starts by looking at health and safety and shows easy ways to cover yourself and to feel more confident in any situation you might encounter whilst outside. Participants are taught about risk benefit analysis as opposed to just risk assessment and the importance of helping children to manage their own risk. We finish off this section with the important dynamic risk assessment which offers everyone the opportunity to feel secure should any eventuality occur.  

With the boring stuff covered the fun starts. Staff are given an opportunity to experience outdoor learning from a child’s point of view and it is through this experience that the full benefits and opportunities reveal themselves. At the same time, we discuss how it is possible to reduce preparation and planning down to a minimum. Outdoor learning is often perceived as being time heavy, involving extra planning and preparation that is understandably off putting. The opposite, however, is true. Through our extensive experience working with children throughout EYFS and key stages 1 and 2, we have developed foolproof methods of enabling staff to take just about any lesson outside without any more planning than has already been done. Furthermore, with a few cheap and simple materials to hand any suitable day can be seized upon to benefit staff and pupils alike.  

We finish the day looking at the science behind learning and how taking lessons outside benefits all children by opening up their capacity to learn. Participants become aware that contrary to first perceptions, outdoor learning can be easier for them to teach, easier for children to learn and an enjoyable experience for all involved. Behaviour both inside and outside can improve and children who struggle in the classroom environment get the opportunity to shine outside.  

Alongside this introduction to outdoor learning we also offer CPD in any curriculum topic, bringing core subjects to life and supporting the STEM and STEAM curriculum objectives. But as they say - don’t just take our word for it. Here are some of the comments we have received from participants who have completed CPD with Grow to School.  

'Am already thinking of ideas to use with children who enjoy outdoor play to further their learning experience.'  

'I’ve realized that outdoor learning can be used for so much more than science and poetry writing.'  

'I really liked the emphasis on low resources, low preparation and encouraging the children to lead with their imagination and natural resources '.  

Grow to School covers the whole of Yorkshire and the Greater Manchester areas. For more information about our CPD sessions please get in touch [email protected] or visit our website www.growtoschool.co.uk.

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