Outdoor Learning At Barons Court
Learning outdoors is a statutory right for all children in the Early Years Foundation Stage. At Barons Court we extend this opportunity to Phase 2, 3 and Phase 4 pupils. Outdoor Learning is about children building self-esteem and independence through exploring and experiencing the natural world. The ethos of Outdoor Learning allows learners the time and space to develop skills, interests and understanding through practical, hands on experiences. It also allows practitioners to step back and observe the children in order to then encourage and inspire individuals to achieve through careful scaffolding and facilitating.
'This is the best kind of classroom,
Where the seasons don't happen in books
Where the learning is watching and thinking and talking
And everyone notices, everyone looks.'
From 'The Best Kind of Classroom' by Ian MacMillan
What Ofsted says about our Outdoor Learning provision (March 2017):
'Adults help pupils develop skills beyond those expected for their age. The provision in the outdoor curriculum is highly effective in helping pupils develop personally and academically.'
Our Forest School Experiences
At Barons Court we are committed to using our school site and local community for all children to experience our highly developed and personalised Forest School approach. Through a range of experiences children have the opportunity to explore and learn about the natural environment, how to handle risks and most importantly to use their own initiative to solve problems and co-operate with others. Our outdoor learning programme promotes the holistic development of all those involved, fostering resilient, confident, independent and creative learners.
All children at Barons Court take part in frequent Forest School sessions, where their learning takes place outside in our environmentally rich, onsite setting. This enables the children experiences to connect with nature. The children will develop and achieve: self-awareness, strong communication skills, self-esteem and confidence through hands on learning experiences and will enjoy activities such as tree climbing, building fires, using tools and den building.
The Curriculum and our Forest School Experiences
Our curriculum has been carefully designed for all of our children from Nursery to Year 6. The curriculum for Key Stage 1 and Key Stage 2 pupils is based on the National Curriculum and our personalised Enquiry Curriculum, such examples include links to the Science, Geography and Design Technology curriculums. The curriculum for the Early Years is based around the Early Years Foundation Stage and the Wanderlust Nature Study curriculum. At the heart of all of our curriculum development is ‘Our Community’, as a school our children recognise their role in the Southend community, our country and the global community and understand the importance of the world around us as they develop their enquiring minds and positive learning attitudes.
Our Beach School Experiences
We are extremely lucky to live in a coastal town with miles of diverse beach right on our doorstep. As a school we are committed to our Beach School curriculum which impacts positively on learning and the personal well-being of pupils, including the overall holistic development of children throughout our school. During our Beach Schools curriculum all children are encouraged to explore the world around them and learn life skills in nature which enables all children to gain a sense of value for the natural world as well as a strong sense of responsibility for their environment. Some of the activities in our curriculum include paddling, identifying marine life, painting and sculpturing and developing their understanding of a wide range of curriculum subjects, such as Geography and Science. We strongly believe this experimental learning opens minds and builds a secure understanding of learning and respect for the world around us.
Our progressive Beach School learning experiences ensures our children:
- Feel safe, secure and happy in the outdoor environment.
- Develop a sense of care and thoughtfulness for their environment.
- Become confident, independent and strong and have time to develop their exploratory and creative drive.
- Are inquisitive, asking questions and finding their own answers and solutions.
What your child needs for Beach Day:
- Spare socks (to go inside wellies).
- Spare trousers or tights.
- Bottle of water.
- During cold weather it is vital they have gloves and a warm hat, during hot weather they need a sun hat.
Our Residential Experiences
At Barons Court we are committed to providing residential experiences for all children from Year 2 to Year 6. These residentials take place annually for all pupils and include valuable experiences for children both on our school site and within the wider context of natural environments. All of the residential experiences are designed to give children an immersive and inspirational outdoor experience. Children receive a high quality mix of creative, challenging and practical skills which are designed to compliment their in school learning experiences. Through the wide range of outdoor experiences, bushcraft, nature studies and forest school experiences our children enjoy a range of fun and active days and evenings.
Why Forest School, Beach School and Learning Outside the Classroom (LOtC) is important to us at Barons Court
Learning Outside the Classroom is about enabling enriching and exciting experiences to develop personal development for all the pupils within our school community. It is an approach which is fully embedded into the life of our school which uses the pupils' experiences in new, natural environments as a stimulus so that they learn about themselves and the world around them more effectively. Our commitment to Learning Outside of the Classroom enables children to learn in a stimulating environment, based around direct experience - from facts about the world in which they live, to facts about themselves, their responses, their interests and their future aspirations.
Thus it is about what we learn, how and where we learn, and who we are.
Barons Court achieves a National Gold Award for Learning Outside the Classroom
Our Eco-Council have been working extremely hard, along with all the other pupils and staff and we were proud to achieve the prestigious National Learning Outside the Classroom Mark (Gold) in November 2017. To receive the national accolade the school has had to show a strong commitment to providing frequent, continuous and progressive learning outside the classroom (LOtC) to all of its pupils. Awarded by the Council for Learning Outside the Classroom the mark accredits those schools that have policies in place to ensure that high quality LOtC is available to all pupils across all areas of the curriculum to benefit their learning and personal development.
The assessor commented that we are ‘A very committed LOtC school evidencing good practice and sharing this with other schools. LOtC is embedded in the daily curriculum and is a very natural and everyday tool to deliver the wider school curriculum. Staff and pupils enjoy going outdoors and there are very impressive outdoor learning areas enabling the curriculum to be delivered where staff decide how learning can be best achieved. Specific beach and forest school areas offer a great LOtC resource which is utilised throughout the Key Stages.’
Barons Court achieves a Green Flag Award as an Eco School
In February 2020 our school successfully achieved our Green Flag award by the Eco-School council. This award recognises the schools investment in environmental education and the assessor who visited our school was very impressed by the children's knowledge and understanding of the work of the Eco Council across our school, ensuring a whole school commitment to this important work. This is our sixth Eco School Green Flag and we are proud to be recognised for our hard work and commitment in environmental action and learning.