At Deanesfield we are renowned for our creative and engaging approach to learning and teaching, we want to extend this by making the best use of our abundant and already beautiful outdoor areas - places where just as much learning can happen as inside in the classroom.
We want to do this by allowing children to have tangible experiences of the outdoors; learning through exploration, investigation and play. Our external environment is already enriched with outdoor classrooms, seating areas, raised planting beds, a fitness trail, sports and play equipment, tabletop games and a variety of playground and field markings and we encourage children at every opportunity to make use of these both at playtime and lunchtime. As teachers, we also plan in regular opportunities for outdoor learning using these resources in a variety of lessons. However, we never rest on our laurels and are always seeking to improve our offer to children and the local community. So, In addition to all this, we want to develop an area bursting with insects, animals and a vast array of plant life. In line with our vision for inclusion, many parts of this area will be wheelchair accessible and provide sensory stimulation for all.
Through respectful and collaborative work with pupils at our school and the neighbouring schools we have identified an area of our school field we would like to give over to nature, and allow it to be a natural extension of the classroom. By including a large pond with dipping platform, wild meadow and a native woodland walk we want to engage our children, their families and neighbouring community groups by bringing nature to them - in a way that sadly not every child experiences out of school. We would like our young people to be involved in building and designing this area, planting trees and dreaming up sculptures that will leave a lasting impact, and a legacy to be enjoyed by future generations. Working with charities we have planned and hope to create, and manage over the next two years a sustainable environment to be enjoyed by our young people at Deanesfield. Our dedicated groundwork maintenance team will be responsible alongside pupils for the overall up keep of the resource, and we will make every effort to involve our neighbours at future ‘maintenance and clearance’ days, art projects and monitoring and recording of wildlife spotted by those enjoying the area.
As a school we would develop the long term use of this area by using it as a fantastic outdoor learning opportunity which would provide many links to the national curriculum, particularly in science, geography and art, where nature can be studied and enjoyed in context. In addition to this we envisage having community opportunities whereby parents, teachers, governors and the local community can be invited to support and sustain our wildlife area.
Our plan for our outdoor area is testament to the faith we have placed in learning through rich and varied experiences at Deanesfield. We recognise that in a built up and heavily urbanised environment our outdoor areas can be a tranquil haven for wildlife and learning alike. We hope through engaging lessons and inspirational teaching to develop successive generations of children at Deanesfield who are dedicated to exploring their local environments, learning from them, protecting and enriching them for future generations, carrying this model out into the wider world.
As part of our creative curriculum, the children in Year 5 have had the opportunity to experience Forest School. Out in all weathers, the children get to experience our wonderful new environmental area in all its glory.
The first activities this half term were planned around Year 5’s literacy focus which was ‘The Firework Maker’s Daughter’. The children used their creative talents to build models from a scene of the story or to construct their own model of a firework. They used natural resources from the outside environment. The children had to problem solve and work collectively as a team in order to put up a shelter and a hammock for quiet reflection. As you can imagine these constructions needed a fair amount of practice to be fit for purpose but in the process great fun was had by all. Mrs Harry and Mrs Owen were overjoyed to see the finished projects which the children achieved through maturity, initiative and creative talents.
They have continued to use their construction skills to make rafts, picture frames and journey sticks of which they collected natural items that were symbolic to them and encouraged visualisation and imagination.
The children have been challenged and supported to participate in games that require them to have trust in their peers. In the process, children learn about the environment in a memorable way. They have enjoyed discovering the hidden flora and fauna that have chosen our school as their habitat. Near the end of their sessions the children look forward to reflection time, over a cup of hot chocolate.