Major project launches to help children learn outdoors
• Natural Connections project to increase number of outdoor learning opportunities for schoolchildren
• Three-year Demonstration Project involves 200+ schools within five ‘hub’ areas of the South West
• New web service to support teachers in delivering lessons outdoors
A ground-breaking 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 has been launched at Glenfrome Primary School, Bristol.
The Natural Connections Demonstration Project 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.
Despite increasingly robust evidence demonstrating the benefits of childhood experiences taking place in nature, recent surveys show that the vast majority of our children are rapidly losing connection with their local natural environments. Children from deprived communities are particularly disadvantaged, and the aim of Natural Connections is to support teachers working in schools which currently provide little or no learning in natural environments.
The project will support teachers in taking over 40,000 children outside to learn, using activities and venues to inspire both children and teachers to excel in subjects from across the whole curriculum. From mathematics to music, biology to physics, languages to literature – the aim is to enable children to access the benefits of learning outside.
Evidence shows that teachers face a number of challenges when planning lessons outside – from uncertainty about where to access high quality learning resources, to lack of knowledge about suitable and accessible locations for outdoors learning experiences.
Useful Links and Resources:
Lots of practical advice on food growing in schools
Learning through Landscapes is the UK charity dedicated to enhancing outdoor learning and play for children. Its vision is that every child benefits from stimulating outdoor learning and play in their education.