The learning that takes place outside the classroom can be truly inspirational. Good quality learning outside the classroom provides opportunities for children to take risks, problem solve and use thinking skills. Research shows there are many benefits to a child’s all-round development, particularly in the areas of personal, social and emotional, language and communication. Trips and outdoor activities also complement the learning in the classroom because they are memorable and fun.
There are endless opportunities for taking the learning outside the classroom which is why learning doesn’t just take place in the classroom at Borrowdale School. Like most schools in the country, we make the most of our location. We’re just very lucky to be situated in a very special location in the heart of the Lake District which gives us the perfect environment for learning (can you think of a school in England in a better location?).
It is therefore a no-brainer for our teachers to focus on child-centered learning in the fresh air and to make the most of all that our grounds and the valley has to offer: experiential learning to study the different habitats, eco systems and geological features around us and real contexts for Science, Geography, History, Art, Biology and many other curriculum applications such as field study and data collection. It’s easy for teachers to take their class in one of our two minibuses, and off they go exploring…
The school also has plenty of natural spaces to use for all kinds of lessons; the grounds comprise of a mature woodland with some 500year old trees, a beck, a conservation pond, a firepit, a field, flower garden, vegetable garden and an orchard. Our school’s Forest School area, which is used every week by most pupils, is located between some old oak trees, high on the fell slope behind the school. Low teacher-to-child ratios means that we can keep all children, including our smallest ones, safe when they are learning in the outdoor environment.
We want our children to grow up fascinated with nature and learn how to look after their environment. Right from the nursery stage, children get to build dens, use and make tools and cook on a fire. They dig in the mud, identify creepie-crawlies with magnifying glasses and learn about the changing seasons, because only the very worst of weather will keep them inside.
Yes, our children get messy! Yes, their feet (and sometimes everything) get wet. Yes, they do occasionally get stung by a nettle or they may get their clothes caught on brambles. But for us, that’s all part of the learning experience. And about helping the children to develop resourcefulness, resilience and autonomy. It’s character building.
The educational benefits of Forest Schools
(source: The New Economics Foundation (NEF))