Since the establishment of the Blue Coat School Garden in early 2014, our ability to allow children to experience outdoor learning has steadily increased. The garden has been a venue for many experiences, not least growing fruit and vegetables. Gardening has been a very popular Friday afternoon activity for our Year 5 and 6 pupils as part of their TED (Thinking, Exploring and Doing) programme and remains so.
During the Lent Term of 2017, we embarked on developing a Forest School area adjacent to the new AstroTurf pitch, in a wooded area which was an ideal home for this new initiative. The School has three qualified Forest School Leaders and offers outdoor experiences to both the children in Pre-Prep and Prep. Our Buttons Nursery children has also had the opportunity to enjoy a teddy bears’ picnic in Forest School as well as to visit a live nativity there.
Outdoor Education is a new part of the Blue Coat curriculum and it is well described by the Forest School Ethos which states;
“The ethos of Forest School is based on a fundamental respect for children and young people and for their capacity to instigate, test and maintain curiosity in the world around them. It believes in children’s right to play; the right to access the outdoors (and in particular a woodland environment); the right to access risk and the vibrant reality of the natural world; and the right to experience a healthy range of emotions, through all the challenges of social interaction, to build a resilience that will enable continued and creative engagement with their peers and their potential.”
Year 3 pupils enjoy their first school residential in the familiar setting of Forest School. The children spend a day enjoying a range of outdoor activities including team games, a ‘night walk’, building bug hotels, making wild bunting and learning knife-skills and how to whittle a piece of wood before a sleepover in the Prep Houses.
In the later years between the ages of 8 and 11 years, the children venture further afield to Wales and Cheshire. There they spend a few days and nights and have the opportunity to ‘be at one’ with nature, to learn how to safely light a fire, receive wilderness first aid training and to have the chance to sleep under the stars.
Blue Coat has always been at the forefront of modern technology. It is our aim to provide the children with an understanding of and an appreciation for the simple, but vital technologies that are a part of everyday life and quite possibly overlooked in our busy urban environment.
The BCS garden and our forest provide our children with access to the outdoors. They give them the opportunities to explore and experience the natural world in a safe, familiar and easily accessible environment. They love these experiences!