Outdoor education is a vital element of our school curriculum and all pupils participate in a safe and adventurous programme. It is part of our philosophy that much can be learned by taking part in expeditions and fieldwork. We aim to develop children’s self-esteem and self-confidence, whilst at the same time developing their ability to work as part of a team.
The outdoor environment has massive potential for providing learning opportunities. Here at King’s Hawford we are extremely fortunate to have large grounds and be surrounded by an environment rich in opportunities. We make full use of our local area, including the canal and the rivers, to enhance our educational provision. We also have two well-established Forest School areas.
King’s Hawford has been awarded the LotC Mark (Gold) Certificate for Learning Outside of the Classroom, an award held by only thirty-five schools nationally.
Outdoor Learning at King’s Hawford
King’s Hawford offers a diverse experience for children, both inside and outside of the classroom. We believe that outdoor experiences enhance and develop the classroom-based environment. Our provision includes:
- In Kindergarten and Reception, all children have a weekly Forest School session.
- Early Years children also enjoy both an outdoor garden area (Kindergarten 1) and an outdoor play-area with adventurous play equipment. They also use the courtyards adjacent to their classrooms as an extension of the classroom.
- All Years 1 to 6 children experience a variety of planned lessons outdoors.
- Trips are organised each term for all classes to extend classroom learning.
- Year 1 and 2 children enjoy outdoor use of the Forest School area.
- After-school clubs for the younger children (Reception to Year 2) engage the children in outdoor activities such as Gardening Club, Katakanu Club, and Nature Studies Club.
- In Years 3 to 6 the children have the opportunity after school to take part in the Gardening Club and Outward Bound Club.
- There is an outdoor classroom for use throughout the year.
- The curriculum is enhanced by a diverse range of events throughout the year, such as school walks, camp-outs involving many year groups, and whole-school camping experiences.
- All children in Years 2 to 6 take part in residential visits to support their learning. They also enjoy regular Katakanu sessions on the canal.
- There is a traversing wall for use in lessons.
- All areas of the grounds are used frequently for lessons and play.
- A ‘Skills’ session on Fridays make use of the outdoors: for example, during these sessions the children partake in orienteering, Art in Nature Club, Outward Bound Club, KH Radio, and using the Katakanus.
Outdoor education is very much part of the school curriculum and all pupils participate in a safe and adventurous programme. It is part of our philosophy that much can be learned by taking part in expeditions and fieldwork. We aim to grow children’s self-esteem and self-confidence, whilst at the same time develop their ability to work as part of a team.
Forest School is a specialised, inspirational, child-centred learning approach that sits within and complements the wider context of outdoor education at King’s Hawford. As soon as you arrive at King’s Hawford, you cannot help but notice an area densely populated by trees with a little wooden gate on one side, through which a world of outdoor exploration awaits. There are carefully-arranged logs on which the children sit together to drink a hot chocolate in the fresh air before delving into the natural space around them and learning through outdoor play.
Forest School Sessions
After excitedly pulling on their wellies and overalls, children have the chance to learn outdoors in Forest School whatever the weather: planting trees, building shelters, looking for wildlife, and generally becoming familiar with the outdoors, whilst learning skills they can use throughout their education. Through Forest School, the children develop positive relationships with themselves and other people and a strong, positive relationship with the natural world.
When do we use Forest School?
Forest School at King’s Hawford is used all year round, encouraging children to wander through the available space, climbing trees, building habitats, helping each other to learn and grow whilst being prepared for all weathers. It is a long-term process of regular sessions, rather than one-off or infrequent visits; the cycle of planning, observation, adaptation and review, links each session. Forest School aims to promote the holistic development of the children, fostering resilient, confident, independent, creative learners.
Forest School Safety
The children get to know the Forest School site well; they are aware of their boundaries and understand what is safe and unsafe. The high adult to child ratio means children can safely experience activities, such as finding out about fungi and berries, observing mini-beasts, or lighting fires.
Forest School Learning
Small, manageable tasks are set, at which children are unlikely to fail and for which genuine praise is given. The Forest School ethos creates an outdoor environment where deep-level learning and progression are the norm. In this way, children are given an excellent foundation for future learning.