Outdoor Learning at Barcroft Primary
At Barcroft Primary the learning environment is of huge importance. We have a Learning Environment policy that ensures consistency across the school and recognises that if utilised well the environment can be used to enhance the curriculum in many ways. We also recognise the value of outdoor learning in improving pupil and staff mental wellbeing.
At Barcroft we are fortunate enough to have large, varied spaces for each key stage. Each area has been carefully designed to ensure the children have different experiences as they move through the school. Each area complies with strict Health and safety standards and is designed take account of the ages of the children. Teachers are encouraged to make outdoor learning part of their planning and learning is moved outside whenever possible. Staff have access to high quality CPD to ensure outdoor learning is up to date and innovative
In early years the outdoor areas are an integral part of the provision. The areas are themed according to the topics the children are studying and the skills that are being worked on that term. There are numerous opportunities for hands on practical learning. The school also encourages risky play and there are opportunities for children to stretch their physical skills in a safe and coordinated way. We are lucky to have a mud kitchen where children can mash, sieve and blend materials whilst developing mathematical, scientific and communication skills. We have a gravel pit and a beautiful water area to name a few
In Key stage 1, we have worked hard to ensure that children are given a new and exciting outdoor experience. We have a reading area, trim trail, pirate ship , a water play feature that encourages children to think scientifically whilst pouring, filling and directing water on hollowed out tubes. We have a gravel pit with working pulleys and levers. Alongside this there are areas for quiet play, reflection and areas for planting.
In Keystage 2 the children have contributed to the design of the provision. They have access to a fenced, turfed area which can be used for team games and PE and the school has invested in good quality bikes and scooters which can be used safely in this area. Alongside this we have a trim trail appropriate for the older children, a nature/science area with a covered pond where children can explore the wildlife. We have a quiet seating area for those that want to read. Our mindfulness area has lots of activities to encourage quiet reflection and communication. We have a performance area with mirrors for our budding actors and a scrap store for building everything and anything your fancy takes.
Our most recent and exciting addition is an Art Hut in the middle of the playground which is themed around the work of the British artist, Andy Goldsworthy. The area is equipped with lots of natural resources, such as rocks and sand and the children have frames in which they can create picture or sculptures using these materials. These creations are then washed away naturally by the rain so there is no waste or impact on the environment
Finally the outdoor walls have chalkboards for the children to experiment with their art or to practice key skills. There is also a maths shed for the children to enjoy maths games.
The school is fortunate enough to have the use of large playing field. This is used for PE, sport days, school events, the daily mile as well as relaxation at playtimes. The area has a running track marked out. The field is also used for the children to be able to experience camping and we have enjoyed several campouts over the years. The area has toilet facilities, changing rooms and is safely secured to limit access from the street.
Our outdoor learning provision is unique and of a very high standard. The learning environment was described as stunning by Ofsted in 2016 but we have not been complacent and we add to the provision every year. We have had many schools visiting us to get inspiration when they are designing their outdoor areas. The school is outward looking and the sharing of good practice to benefit all children is very much part of our ethos. Please contact the school if you would like to arrange a visit.