Getting Outdoors at School
Is your school's vision for children to be happy, healthy and resilient?
Do you seek to foster curiosity, independent learning, kindness and compassion?
Do you aim to reduce inequalities and provide children with opportunities to access the full range of primary experiences as they move through your school?
Do you want children to care about climate change?
These are the key capabilities, skills and experiences that children gain outdoors, in their playtimes and through learning outdoors.
They just aren't things that can easily be 'taught'. Grit is something you develop trying to do stuff. Intrinsic motivation can only be fostered if you yourself are directing what you do. Connection to planet builds on regular outdoors time deeply observing the slow changes in nature.
As Outdoor People we support schools through
- Delivering the OPAL Primary Programme to make playtimes amazing
- Offering package discounts for waterproof gear for both children and adults
- Offering discounts on gear like tarps, Ghillie Kettles and books
- Being part of the Local School Nature Grant providers
- Being an Outdoor Classroom Day Ambassador
- Sharing research
- Delivering workshops and masterclasses
- Coordinating the London National Park City Schools Network
- Organising conferences and events to support learning about the outdoors.
Find out about the OPAL Primary Programme
Just thinking back to our own school days, for most of us it is the playground that still burns bright. It is the playground experiences that can often shape a child's day. Yet in almost all schools across the UK and indeed the world, little consideration is given to these in-between times. There is no Government guidance in England requiring children to have a break, nor any official direction on what the spaces outdoors should be like.
Our CEO Cath Prisk first visited an OPAL school in 2008 when the founder, Michael Follett, was a school improvement advisor at South Gloucestershire council. Having been a primary school teacher since 1992 Cath was familiar with the sound of a playground, and in particular that sound that you get on a damp Tuesday lunchtime when the children are a bit stressed.... This visit was on a damp Tuesday lunchtime. The children weren't stressed. quite the opposite, they were happy, engaged, busy and full of joy.
The headteacher at that school explained since he had introduced OPAL he'd seen a dramatic reduction in reported bullying, accidents and incidents in the playground. He now had an extra 15 - 20 minutes a day as he didn't have to worry about dealing with some trouble or other. Attendance had gone up. Staff reported the children settled and concentrating more in the afternoons.
Fast forward to summer 2020. and Michael rang us up to ask if Cath would become an OPAL mentor, supporting schools here in London and the South East. We said yes immediately.
Supporting Outdoor Learning
We've worked with Learning through Landscapes in one form or another for over 15 years now as individuals, so when we set up Outdoor People it made sense for Cath to become an accredited LtL trainer.
Last September she had the huge privilege of delivering the My School My Planet programme at Ark Bentworth Primary in Hammersmith.
Photo Credit: Cath Prisk