Outdoor Learning at Stocksbridge Junior School
“There is strong evidence that good quality learning outside the classroom adds much value to classroom learning. It can lead to a deeper understanding of the concepts that span traditional subject boundaries and which are frequently difficult to teach effectively using classroom methods alone. It provides a context for learning in many areas: general and subject based knowledge; thinking and problem-solving skills; life skills such as co-operation and interpersonal communication.” NCETM
This is very much in line with how we see our Outdoor Learning space being used.
In 2016 we completely transformed our outdoor learning environment into the area we call Cedarwood. We now have a network of pathways which allow moments of serenity, complex balance beams and platforms for those who like to explore travel and movement and other super features such as the climbing frame and fire pit area.
Each Term, our teachers aim to deliver a range of academic sessions in this outdoor environment with the aim that the children will feel inspired to take risks and express themselves in ways in which they could not within the classroom.
Recently, the area has been used by our Year Three children in Science to make a giant body map. Our Year Four children have used the fire pit to create a range of aromas which have conjured ideas for making potions for their topic work. Our Year Five children have explored the pathways and differing surfaces to create a range of poetry whilst our Year Six students have ‘gone over the top’ as an inspiration for writing World War One Diaries.
Outdoor Learning badges
Through a meeting with the School Council in late 2017, the students suggested it would be nice to have a badge scheme to work towards, similar to that which exists in the Scout movement. From this meeting, the staff were charged with the task of creating three badges linked to their particular topics for their year group.
Now, as well as regularly learning in the outdoor environment, our children have the chance to acquire skills and be tested on these throughout the year. Be that the SJS Ready badge in Year Three or the Outdoor Chef badge in Year Six, there is always an extra challenge available.