New web service gives teachers an education in developing outdoor learning opportunities.
Coinciding with Empty Classroom Day – which celebrates all teaching activities that take place in the fresh air – a new web service is launched today to help teachers to deliver more outdoor learning.
Launch of Natural Connections
The existing Growing Schools website, hosted by FACE, has undergone a major upgrade to increase the range of on-line learning resources and tools for teachers to support the delivery of learning in natural environments across the national curriculum. The aim is for the refreshed website to be the primary outdoor learning resource for teachers. These changes were funded by the ground-breaking Natural Connections Demonstration Project*, launched earlier this week by Plymouth University and Natural England’s Chair, Poul Christensen.
Teachers can browse through a wide selection of suitable outdoor sites presenting numerous opportunities for where to stage lessons outside: from gardens, parks and local nature reserves; to woodlands, science learning centres and farms. Whether a short walk away, or a trip further afield, key facts for ‘what to do there’ are all here.
Teaching resources sections Teachers can browse teaching resources arranged by key stage or subject, and can search for outdoor activities and topics such as discovering more about plants and animals, how to teach maths outside, gardening with children with special educational needs and much more ...
Advice & support sections These will provide teachers with information about sourcing funding, making the case for learning outdoors, health and safety and how to use the outdoors for teaching across the whole curriculum.
The site is interactive, to enable teachers to share with others - using photos and/or videos - the successes and challengesexternal link of taking lessons out in green spaces. They can share resources that have proved useful, and news about how their school is using nature to give the curriculum an extra boost of inspiration. There is a feedback link on the site for user comments too.
To further connections between teachers – not just those engaged in the Natural Connections Demonstration Project – this site will have a prominent link to The Times Educational Supplement’s outdoor learning forumexternal link. So teachers from all over the country can engage in ongoing discussions about learning in the natural environment, chat about their recent experiences, and share new ideas about how to galvanise lessons outside.
* The Natural Connections Demonstration Project is a unique project which aims to significantly increase the number of school-aged children experiencing the full range of benefits that come from learning outside the classroom in natural environments. Launched earlier this week, it is set to run for the next three years and aims to work with 40,000 children in 200 schools across the South West from Cornwall to Bristol. Funded by the Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs (Defra), Natural England and English Heritage, and delivered by Plymouth University, it is one of the largest outdoor learning projects in the UK.