Outside Learning

Outdoor Learning at Hemingford Grey
We are very lucky at Hemingford Grey to have a fantastic outdoor space. All of the children in our school have regular opportunities to use this outdoor space as part of the Science and PHSCE curriculum, as well as using it for hands-on learning in other parts of the National Curriculum such as measuring lengths in Maths or using reflection in the pond for writing poetry. Research has consistently shown the benefits of outdoor learning. OFSTED (2008) reports that outdoor learning can lead to improved achievement, motivation, behaviour and personal development. There is substantial evidence to show that outdoor learning supports children’s ability to regulate their emotions, protects their mental health and develops their resilience to and appreciation of failure. At a time when 1 in 9 children haven’t set foot in a natural environment for a year (Natural England, 2016), we feel outdoor learning is an important part of our provision.

At Hemingford Grey we have multiple learning environments that we can use with our curriculum. There is a wildflower mound with over 35 species that is used for species identification and is maintained by the children as a traditional hay meadow - with the hay going to the chickens! We have a fire pit and woodland area where children can undertake challenges such as whittling, fire lighting, den building and outdoor cooking. Our large pond is a fantastic area for pond dipping and allowing children to compare habitats. We have a large allotment, numerous plants beds, fruit trees and seasonal bedding containers, which all provide children with the opportunities to consider where their food comes from, how we can support pollinators and the structure and growing requirements of plants. Our children have developed strong relationships with the local community and undertake weekly gardening with members of the Hemingford Grey Gardeners’ society as well as learning how to competently and safely use age appropriate tools.

Recently, we used a large grant from the A14 fund to purchase a 20ft X 8ft greenhouse. This will allow us to expand our outdoor learning curriculum and allow children to grow a greater variety of plants across a larger proportion of the year. A particular focus from September will be on growing native wildflowers to extend the natural habitats at school, alongside children developing enterprises to grow and sell plants to parents. This greenhouse will also allow us to store a range of plants from around the world, which can be used in class to consider differences in adaptation.