Published on 02/04/19
Giving children the freedom and time to explore and interact in wild and open spaces is critical to all aspects of development and learning. The outdoor classroom is unique: no walls, no boundaries, no bells – an endless horizon of opportunity.
Roald Dahl once said, ‘The more risks you allow children to take, the better they learn to take care of themselves’.
By stepping outside of our comfort zone, we are presented with new challenges, new risks, and the
chance to discover new worlds. This can be as simple as getting our hands dirty when planting, it
could be mastering the overhand loop knot to put up rope swings, learning to build a range of shelters
or even, as we have more recently done, charming worms!
The benefits of high-quality outdoor learning experiences quickly become apparent when the children
are given the opportunity to take part in risk-assessed, but not risk-free activities.
Where better to learn new things while appreciating the beauty of nature, than the great outdoors?
Fortnightly lessons not only inspire our pupils to explore and investigate nature, but they also feed
their natural curiosity for the world around them.
The idyllic location at Latham Road, being only a brisk 15 minute walk away from school, provides us
with a fantastic setting to enhance their learning. Lessons take place in and around the woodland,
pond and meadow, and sometimes beside the riverside mooring, right next to the River Cam.
By building these lessons into the curriculum, we can creatively connect the Forest School to
traditional classroom learning. The opportunity for cross-curricular education is endless, as we
integrate many subjects, including science, geography and maths. Activities have included concocting
a perfume and thinking about our senses, searching for mini-beasts, and collecting natural items and
placing them in categories. Pupils have also enjoyed creating natural weaving looms and clay faces.
The outdoor classroom provides pupils with a totally different environment to refine their learning
habits. Playing and learning outside helps children to understand and respect nature, the environment
and the interdependence of humans, animals, plants and lifecycles.
Outdoor play supports children’s problem-solving skills and nurtures their creativity, as well as
providing rich opportunities for their developing imagination, inventiveness and resourcefulness.
Children need an outdoor environment that can provide them with space, places to explore,
experiment, discover, be active and healthy, and to develop their physical capabilities.
Anyone who takes children outside regularly sees the enjoyment, and sense of wonder and
excitement that is generated when children actively engage with their environment.