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The outdoor classroom: Risk taking and creative thinking

Published: Apr 2, 2015 3 min read

STEM learning

Bev Fletcher is the Assistant Headteacher and Science Coordinator at Brotherton and Byram Community Primary School, North Yorkshire. She is one of 50 teachers to win £1,000 for their school as a result of their entry in the Rolls-Royce Science Prize. In this article she outlines her entry for the prize and the effect it has had on her school.

Leading teaching and learning

Having always loved learning science and mathematics, I feel very lucky to not only teach it but to have the opportunity to see children feel the same excitement and enthusiasm for both subjects. I have attended several courses at the National Science Learning Centre, York, including ‘Essential science for children’, ‘Science and creative arts’ and now, as my role as Science Coordinator, ‘ Leading science in the outdoor classroom’. All of which have been very useful for professional development and improving science across the school. I have responsibilities for teaching and learning as well as science across school; the courses and subsequent action plans have helped me lead these areas in driving the school development forward. My philosophy of taking a risk and thinking creatively when facilitating learning experiences to engage and excite children’s curiosity is reflected in my action plan, which aims to develop outdoor learning areas that showcase active teaching and learning.

We are very lucky to have a wooded and outdoor areas for use by both key stages, however, these areas were undeveloped. Teachers will use the areas for discrete teaching of science and mathematics as well as a challenge based approach to active learning across the curriculum, using mathematics and science as the core subject to teaching a creative curriculum. As a result, children will improve independent learning, problem solving, critical and reasoning skills whilst improving the rate of progress in all areas of learning. Finally, because key skills learned in mathematics and science, are transferable across the curriculum and in life beyond school, children will be more equipped and ready for the next stage in their learning and more able to deal with situations outside and beyond school.

Developing outdoor learning zones

The project is ambitious and very exciting. So far children and staff are working on zoning their outside classrooms, and have put forward ideas to improve the woodland area. They have already started developing a learning zone in the woodland areas which they are all very enthusiastic and excited about!

Putting the Rolls-Royce science prize to good use

Winning the £1,000 award has meant that we can make the proposed actions a reality, allowing us to develop the outdoor provision so that quality teaching and learning can take place. It has been a massive bonus winning the award and just what the school needed to kick start an exciting project. Teachers are really looking forward to seeing the children enjoying their learning as a result.

The Rolls-Royce Science Prize is an annual awards programme that helps teachers implement science and mathematics teaching ideas in their schools and colleges. The awards programme is open to all schools and colleges in the UK.

The National Science Learning Network runs a variety of subject-specific professional development courses, including those mentioned above, other courses related to these include: