This week has seen Outdoor Classroom Day, a global campaign to celebrate and inspire outdoor learning and play. On the day, thousands of schools around the world took lessons outdoors and prioritised playtime.
This is something we do every day at Kedleston – our schools all embrace the Learning Outside the Classroom ethos with students offered multiple opportunities to learn away from the traditional classroom environment every week.
We have long recognised that outdoor learning improves children’s health, engages them with learning and leads to a greater connection with nature, particularly for the children we support who may be affected by social, emotional and mental health difficulties and who may struggle to learn in traditional classroom environments.
All of our schools establish links and visits to art galleries, theatres, community projects, museums and places of cultural and spiritual importance with the aim of taking learning into these places and making it as much a part of the curriculum as “traditional” classroom-based learning.
One of our schools has been recognised for its commitment and success in learning outside of the classroom. Olsen House School in Sefton earned the Bronze Learning Outside the Classroom Mark for its work in embracing local facilities to help ensure learning takes place but in ways which do not require sitting at a desk for hours, a method not suited to many of its students.
The LOtC Mark is intended not only to recognise existing exemplary provision, but also to assist and support schools in developing their LOtC offer to enable all children to have access to meaningful LOtC experiences.
However, it is not just Olsen House who embrace learning outside the classroom. All of our residential and day schools include many activities and lessons which are held outside of the classroom on their curriculum daily, including Forest Schools. For example, Wings Cumbria uses the wealth of glorious countryside around it to encourage learning in canoeing, rock climbing, sports and photography as well as many others.
It is a vital element of each school’s curriculum with each school offering a diverse curriculum which takes into account every student’s own individual learning needs, which helps maximise their chance of successes.
Kedleston recognises the classroom is not always the best place for a young person to learn, or to undertake new challenges or have new experiences they may not always have the opportunity to try.
We believe there is strong evidence that good quality learning outside the classroom adds 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.