Education

Devon schools urged to take learning outdoors

Pupils of Woolsery Primary School in Bideford showing off their nature crowns

Posted on: 12 May 2021

Schools across Devon are being encouraged to take lessons outside next Thursday (20 May) as part of Outdoor Classroom Day.

School leaders say the pandemic has reminded us all of how important spending time in nature is for both physical and mental health.

Outdoor Classroom Day is a global movement aiming to make time outdoors part of every child’s day.

Since its creation in 2012, thousands of pupils in Devon have taken part in the initiative through making their own compost, creating homes for wildlife and growing food.

This year the Local Nature Partnership is encouraging even more schools to get involved so that every child in Devon can have the opportunity to learn outside.

It is crucial to get children outside and support a pandemic recovery with Natural England’s ‘People and Nature Survey’ finding eight in ten children agreeing that being in nature made them very happy and 70 per cent wanting to spend more time with friends outdoors.

Katie Coombe, headteacher of Charleton Academy in Kingsbridge, shares the value of outdoor learning. She said:

“Outdoor learning is an integral part of our curriculum. It is important to us that our children have a broad knowledge of the area of outstanding natural beauty in which they live and learn.

“The very best way for them to build this knowledge and appreciation of their local area is to get outside and explore it, so we take full advantage of the brilliant spaces around us.

“We are lucky to have the countryside and estuary on our doorstep meaning beach safaris, forest school, gardening, real life science experiments and sketching or sculpting inspired by nature are all part of our rich school life.”

Devon County Council’s Head of Education, Dawn Stabb, said:

“Many Devon schools already make outdoor learning an integral part of their curriculum with forest schools, gardening clubs and a whole range of learning experiences.

“But this past year has reminded us all how lucky we are to live in such a beautiful place as Devon but, also, how important getting outdoors has been for both our physical and mental health.

“I hope more Devon schools than ever will find the time to mark Outdoor Classroom Day this year.”

If schools want to get involved in Outdoor Classroom Day this year, they can add their name to the global map and tag the Devon Local Nature Partnership in any of their social media posts using @Devon_LNP and #OutdoorClassroomDay to inspire even more schools to get involved.

Schools in Devon which have supported the day are identified on the site. The Local Nature Partnership website also has a map of providers you can contact to support you in getting your class learning outside.

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