Gaining a full understanding and experience of the outdoors and nature is fundamental to building a child’s knowledge and understanding of the world around them. Sithney School is fully committed to providing pupils with meaningful experiences for curriculum enrichment through hands-on learning in the outdoors.
We run a progressive programme of outdoor learning throughout a child’s journey through school. This starts at EYFS and culminates in Year 6 as the children are supported to develop skills, experiences and healthy living in the natural world throughout their time at school. Gaining a deep connection with nature and enhanced responsibility for the care of the environment is central to this extensive programme.
The Outdoor Learning programme encompasses a range of environments to enable the children to gain a broader and fuller experience and understanding. By the time a child reaches Year 6 they will have benefitted from exposure to the following environments and contexts:
- Forests and woodland areas
- Coastal, beach and tidal zones
- Rivers and waterways
- Ponds, lakes and reservoirs
- Moorland and open countryside
- Historic sites
We offer two programmes of study which are progressive and build year by year to ensure that pupils leave our school as well rounded, skilled and experienced in their abilities to confidently and respectfully access the ‘great outdoors’. Adults leading sessions will have received Wild Tribe Outdoor Practitioner training or relevant alternative Outdoor Learning experience / qualifications.
Starting in Early Years the EYFS programme incorporates 18 sessions through the Reception Year. All sessions are designed to closely link to the Prime and Specific areas of learning and development of the EYFS curriculum. This forms the foundation element of our Outdoor Learning offer where children gain a clear understanding of the boundaries and behaviour expectations of the outdoor learning programme whilst developing their knowledge and use of a variety of tools and equipment. Children start this programme accessing half day sessions prior to building to full day long learning experiences. By the end of the EYFS programme the children will have a strong foundation and the building blocks needed to move through the KS1/KS2 programme of study.
In Years 1-6 children take part in a tailored series of Outdoor Learning which focus on the one of the following key areas:
- Traditional Forest School skills
- Team Challenges
- National Curriculum Focus
Each year group will take part in three outdoor learning sessions per year. Each session will be a full day with one taking place in the Autumn, Spring and Summer terms. This ensures that children gain valuable experiences of the outdoors through the changing seasons. By the end of Year 6 each child would have received a further 18 days of Outdoor Learning experiences which culminate in a final challenge ‘The Final Frontier’ at Year 6 which enable the children to showcase all that they have learnt. This comprehensive programme teaches the children about utilising outdoor spaces to build structures, make tools and create products, in addition to developing navigation and leadership skills.
Throughout the children’s Outdoor Learning programme they work towards The Wild Tribe Achievement Award which is their own personalised journey of achievements and where the children work towards their bronze, silver and gold awards.
The aim of the award is to develop the child as a rounded individual; a child that has fun, grows in confidence, learns new life skills and gains an appreciation of nature. These children will be able to cope with successes and failures and will have a positive outlook on life. It is divided into 3 levels, Bronze, Silver and Gold and within each level there are four strands:
- Health and Wellbeing
- Volunteering and Leading
- Life Skills
- Respecting and Enjoying the Environment
To complete a level, the child will need to take part and have signed off a number of elements in each strand. Many of the elements involve being outdoors. Once the four strands have been completed, the child MUST take part in the Adventure Challenge to complete that level of the award.
In addition to measuring impact through the Wild Tribe Achievement Award, we undertake pupil conferencing, session evaluations and parent/pupil/teacher questionnaires. Teachers’ plan and link outdoor learning objectives to the National Curriculum therefore enabling them to map, assess and track pupil progress across a variety of subject areas.
Through this holistic Outdoor Learning programme we aim for all children to leave school as responsible, resilient custodians of themselves and the environment. We aim to develop children who will have the skills to be able to thrive in the outdoors whilst having the confidence to apply this learning to all areas of their existing and future studies / lives.