At Coltishall Primary School, we believe that outdoor learning and Forest School programmes enable our children to develop and nurture their self-esteem, confidence and our schools values and learning dispositions, where every child has the opportunity to achieve their holistic, full potential in a learner-led enabling environment.
Coltishall pupils have the opportunity to learn through experience in a hands on manner, to develop fine and gross motor skills and proprioception, to assess and manage risk, to practice and achieve, to enquire and investigate, whilst embracing the physical and personal challenges that working outside can present.
It is our intention that every pupil develops a real passion for the great outdoors and celebrates their local, natural environment. We wish for every child to develop a knowledge and passion for their local habitat and how to look after and nurture it. Our outdoor learning motto is “We look after ourselves, each other, and all the living things.”
Children from reception to Year 2 take part in 2 x 6 week Forest School programmes each school year, with each weekly session lasting for the entire morning. The two annual 6 week programmes take place across two different seasons, allowing the children to learn with the seasons and experience the outdoors all year round. Children from Years 3 to 6 take part in outdoor learning sessions which includes conservation/gardening projects and bushcraft/outdoor skills development one afternoon per week, for half of each half termly block. All of our outdoor sessions are with half class groups; the aim of this is to create time and space for the children to create a quality attachment with the outdoor practitioners, each other and the space, whilst developing their interests, knowledge and skills.
Wellbeing and emotional literacy is an integral part of Coltishall’s outdoor learning sessions. Children are encouraged to express their feelings, and emotional literacy language is modelled through books, circle time discussions and responses to real events as they happen. Children are encouraged to talk to one another, to express their feelings and to problem solve in order to move through a challenge or negative state of being. Each session includes a mindful meditation/circle space where children have the opportunity to share and listen.
The school outdoor learning area includes a wild area, a fire circle, mud kitchen, pond and bird hide, and a wooded area with rope swings, a hammock and loose parts play equipment. The outdoor space is also used by the Eco-club councillors for their weekly lunchtime eco-meetings and working parties, after school club children also use the space for nature discovery/craft sessions, and class teachers are encouraged to use the outdoor space to make real life curriculum links and take learning outdoors. Staff have received training on linking outdoor learning to the curriculum from Learning through Landscapes.
In addition to the outdoor learning area, the school also has a village allotment, a whole class amphitheatre fire circle area and a newly planted wildflower bee meadow to encourage greater biodiversity on the school grounds.
Outdoor learning is all about inclusion. Activities and experiences are designed with equity in mind to allow all learners to participate fully. Our trained staff offer support and scaffolding to all learners, to meet their holistic needs, whether that be physically, emotionally or socially.