At Chandlers Ford Infant school we understand that learning need not take place solely within our educational building. The outdoor environment has massive potential for learning and we are extremely fortunate to have lovely school grounds.
Our intent is to take every opportunity to use our outdoor space to enhance our pupil’s learning experiences and enrich our curriculum because we believe that children need practical hands-on experiences which develop their understanding, engages, and brings their learning to life. At Chandler’s Ford Infant school, we know that outdoor learning teaches our students critical life skills such as resilience, teamwork, and creativity as well as improving their health and wellbeing. We want the children at our school to have the opportunity to be able to explore and learn outside throughout the year, experiencing the seasons and changing nature around them. We recognise that many of our children do not get equal opportunities to connect with nature outside of school. Therefore, we believe it is vital that outdoor learning plays a central role within our curriculum.
At Chandler's Ford Infant School our vision and values are at the core of everything we do, and we believe that connecting our students with nature is important to their future success and the future of our planet. We want our pupils to care deeply about the natural world and to ignite a passion for stewardship and have the confidence to speak for the natural world.
Chandler's Ford Infant School is a Hampshire "Trailblazer" school, a green flag Eco-School and a member of the RHS School Gardening programme. Our curriculum aims therefore always support and inspire children to make a positive impact on our planet.
All outdoor learning is planned around the curriculum currently being studied, which gives depth, enrichment, and an outdoor perspective for our students. Our cross-curriculum approach to outdoor learning ensures a high standard of teaching and learning in all subject areas across the school. Each subject uses a clear progression of skills and knowledge, and our outdoor learning enriches and enhances the children’s in-school learning experiences. It is through this method that we strive to provide our pupils with the widest range of skills and opportunities available to us.
As a Trailblazer school which is a Hampshire County scheme that promotes outdoor and environmental education, we are guided, supported, and aided in our outdoor learning development and as part of this scheme each class has pledge to carry out a minimum of 60 hours of outdoor learning each year. We also run a successful Gardening Club for Years 1 and 2 during lunch times and are a member of the RHS School Gardening program and an after-school Forest School club for Year 2 children. On top of this each term our school holds an “Outdoor Classroom Day” which is a global campaign to inspire outdoor learning and play.
Being a Green Flag Eco-school, a Hampshire Trailblazer School, and a member of the RHS School gardening scheme means that we follow several different programmes with their own learning objectives. Chandler’s Ford Infant School has a strong student voice with a T.E.D (together everybody, decides) and Eco-Helpers committee that meets regularly and has representatives from each of our Key Stage 1 classes. Guided by teachers our committee members help us to achieve these goals and learning objectives and make suggestions on how we can also weave this learning into whole school and classroom routines.
Through using our outdoor space as an enriching learning environment and resource our children acquire a wide range of practical, physical, social, aesthetic and thinking skills while at the same time developing a deeper level of knowledge and understanding of each subject they are learning. On top of this as a school we are very aware of the wide range of documented evidence that examines the link between physical activity, natural environments, health and wellbeing. We have observed first-hand the impact of outdoor learning on our pupil’s confidence, enjoyment, mental health, well-being, and academic performance and this is why we are so dedicated to integrating and undertaking outdoor learning wherever possible.
Assessment in all subject areas is an on-going process which informs teacher’s planning, task design and variation. Outdoor learning is part of the blood stream of our school therefore assessments of and for learning takes place outside as much as it does inside.
As a Green Flag Eco-School, a Hampshire Trailblazer School, and a member of the RHS School gardening scheme we also regularly need to reflect, review, and analyse our progress within the framework of each of these programmes. We do this as much as possible with our students and have found this process has developed confidence, self-esteem, increased pupil engagement and it has helped to build our school as a learning community. increased pupil engagement and it has helped to build our school as a learning community. Moving through these different programmes and award systems have helped us to focus on the impact of outdoor learning as well as our next steps and future development plans.
We measure the impact of our outdoor learning through the following methods:
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