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Outdoor Learning


Forest School is a unique and exciting way to educate and provide children with the opportunity to succeed and develop their confidence and self-esteem through hands-on learning experiences in an outdoor environment. At Athelstan, we understand the importance of each child being individual and unique; outdoor learning is accessible for all children. The children engage in motivating and achievable tasks and activities. Children in Reception access the Enchanted Garden in the summer term and those in Year 1 in the autumn term. The children work with tools and fires, creating wood craft and building dens; they also develop their understanding of boundaries and the benefits of a balanced and healthy lifestyle. The children’s learning in school, such as exploring dinosaurs and fossils, can be easily transferred to outdoor learning and vice versa. Children thrive and look forward to accessing the Enchanted Garden each week.


As a school, we aim to use outdoor learning to facilitate active and engaging learning. We integrate this area across subjects to add value, meaning and allow greater understanding. This hands-on approach aims to engage cognitive learning and enjoyment, greatly benefiting all children. Bug hotels, an amphitheatre, working walls and vegetable planters all comprise this special place.  It is used as a space to facilitate the growth of responsible citizens, who respect the environment that surrounds them and encourages creative and curious minds. We support our pupils' well being and mental health; using the space for mindfulness, pastoral groups and growing our own vegetables.


In our school, we believe that learning should be hands-on and that children become better scientists through investigation, which stimulates and excites them to develop a love for the subject.  The aim of the Creature Feature is to allow children to have the physical experience of being outdoors and observing life processes and various habitats during their learning in science.  The garden is divided into different zones, each one representing a different type of habitat. Under supervision, children are able to pond dip and explore the surrounding areas, hunting and identifying flora and fauna.  Around the borders,  children plant flowers and herbs, which attracts a greater range of insects and invertebrates. The bee home is amongst the flower beds and we also have bug hotels and wormeries. The willow dome is used as a quiet area, forming a hiding place for the children  to sit and observe the surrounding area and wildlife .


When we have spoken to the children, some Key Stage 2 children have expressed that they would welcome a quieter space at playtime and dinnertime. The Butterfly Garden has been designed and developed for exactly that! It is separate to the KS2 playground and provides a safe, engaging space for mindfulness, creative activities. The area is furnished with plants, seating, chimes and prompts for mindfulness. We are delighted that our mindfulness coach, Nadege, facilitates the area on a Wednesday. She supports the children with activities, including clay, mindfulness practice and sand play; children can come and go as they please. We are looking forward to the Mindfulness Champions leading their own activities and pastoral groups taking place in the area this year.