Therfield First School pupils swap classrooms for sessions in the great outdoors

PUBLISHED: 07:49 26 July 2017 | UPDATED: 07:57 26 July 2017

Children toasting marshmallows with Alix Marschani. Picture: Courtesy of Therfield First School

Children toasting marshmallows with Alix Marschani. Picture: Courtesy of Therfield First School

Archant

Learning has looked a little different in Therfield this term after children swapped pens, notebooks, and even classrooms, for sessions in the great outdoors.

It's tiring work for the young class.  Picture: Courtesy of Therfield First SchoolIt's tiring work for the young class. Picture: Courtesy of Therfield First School

Based on the premise of Forest Schooling – whereby learners achieve and develop confidence and self-esteem through hands-on learning experiences in a woodland – Children at Therfield First School’s Outdoor School develop knowledge through an experiential, skills-based curriculum, where learning needs and interests are located in the natural environment.

It all started when outdoor school leader Alix Marschani joined Therfield for maternity cover and was excited to be given the opportunity to combine learning outcomes from the science curriculum with practical outdoor skills.

The school enlisted the help of parents and the community to support the project by donating resources like tyres, pebbles, containers, gardening canes and plants, and their sessions take place at Greys Farm.

There were plenty of muddy feet after this Outdoor School class.  Picture: Courtesy of Therfield First SchoolThere were plenty of muddy feet after this Outdoor School class. Picture: Courtesy of Therfield First School

Ms Marschani said: “This has been a real educational opportunity to take learning to a new height.

“Every child has gained positively from the experience. While being a fun place to learn in, all have gained the realisation that their actions outdoors can have an effect for the betterment of our natural world. This has been made possible by linking children as citizens outside the classroom, creating a natural platform for developing participation and action.”

Parents who offered their time to drive children to Greys Farm. Parents also have had the opportunity to comment on aspects of the project through the outdoor school blog.

Children growing plants with Outdoor School leader Alix Marschani. Picture: Courtesy of Therfield First SchoolChildren growing plants with Outdoor School leader Alix Marschani. Picture: Courtesy of Therfield First School

Headteacher Tara McGovern said: “Linking with Greys Farm and its 500 acres of meadows and other habitats, we have engaged our children with real encounters with plant life and its dependent wildlife.

“I am thrilled that our outdoor school curriculum is having such a positive impact on our school and the wider community. Each individual can make their own difference and evoke change. The appreciation and respect that our pupils are showing for their locality is a joy to see.”

The children have even picked up gongs for their efforts at the school’s Countryside Citizen Award ceremony.

Children have been learning new skills as part of the Outdoor School curriculum. Picture: Courtesy of Therfield First SchoolChildren have been learning new skills as part of the Outdoor School curriculum. Picture: Courtesy of Therfield First School

The awards, masterminded by Mrs McGovern and Ms Marschani, marked the end of the first term of the schools innovative curriculum.

Mrs McGovern said: “Greys Farm provided the perfect backdrop to give a greater purpose and context to the ceremony.

“Pupils have attended the site regularly and parents have heard a lot about the wonderful learning that has taken place here.

The Countryside Citizen Award Ceremony. Picture: Courtesy of Therfield First SchoolThe Countryside Citizen Award Ceremony. Picture: Courtesy of Therfield First School

“The ceremony provided parents with the opportunity to take part in a tour of the grounds, as well as witnessing pupils receive Countryside Citizen and Special Recognition awards.”

Edward Darling, owner of Greys Farm, welcomed parents onto the farm and awards were handed out by Royston West and Rural county councillor Steve Jarvis.

Edward Darling, who runs Greys Farm with his wife Annie, said: “It is important for every community to realise the many wonderful things that are actually going on around them. It is great that Greys is able to help the school provide that positive message.”

You can find out more about the project and follow the journey of our learning at the blog therfieldoutdoorschool.wordpress.com.

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