Outdoor learning flourishes at Johnston CP School



Outdoor learning flourished at Johnston Community Primary School over the past school year, with students planting a wildflower meadow, learning bushcraft techniques, creating a vegetable patch, tending to chickens and much more. Moreover.

The extensive program, which includes the use of a wooded area and a nearby field, enabled children to take responsibility for different projects as well as using the outdoors for all kinds of learning, ranging from from the study of the meadows to Shakespeare in the open air. .

“The pandemic has caused schools to think carefully about the experiences offered to students,” said Principal Gareth Thomas.

“In light of the school closures and times, we were keenly aware that students’ screen time had increased dramatically, especially during the winter months.

“We decided to use the pandemic to launch our ambition to provide students with rich and engaging experiences in our wonderful outdoor environment.”

Students say they like expanded outdoor learning, say they like being in the great outdoors, learning new skills, having an adventure, discovering new things, and peace and quiet.

“It gives us the opportunity to learn more about animals and plants in their own habitats,” said one student, while another said: “You do more practical things and you have to use your brain. in a different way.”

One of the main features of the outdoor program is the seven-acre land adjacent to the school site, which was leased to the school in 2017 but had not been used until then. To help get the program started, a massive effort was made to clear the land, with the help of rangers from Pembrokeshire Coast National Park.

“We found that we also used a small section of wood, with a small stream over which we built a wooden bridge in order to access a fire pit area,” Gareth continued.

“All of a sudden I felt like something special was going on and a parent built us what can only be described as a chicken palace ready to host chickens that the students need to do. to occupy.

“From September 2020, enthusiastic students and back in class, we started to introduce outdoor learning into the program and engage students in our wonderful outdoor spaces. From then on things really started to develop. Each class began to develop their learning, taking responsibility for activities and planning challenges week after week.

The third and fourth years began forestry school activities run by education officials at Pembrokeshire Coast National Park, bringing rubber boots every Wednesday morning to start their adventures in the woods.

“We found that the students really wanted to take control of the learning they were engaging in, planning projects like building insect hotels and creating signs for different areas, planting trees. natives and much more. “

The fifth grade used the outdoors as an exciting environment to apply math skills in a real-world setting, from calculating tree heights, to planning the amount of fencing needed for growing areas, to calculating which areas the trees would need. sheep could graze and work the ratio of ingredients in making jams (after picking blackberries from the field).

“Almost immediately, work in mathematics gained momentum as innovation in pedagogical approaches began to develop, and success was evident as learners flourished during outdoor activities,” said notice Gareth.

The sixth grade looked at what they could grow and how much money they could make; the job is to dig up part of the field, create a vegetable garden, help build a large tunnel, work with tools, create business plans and grow almost everything from seed to maximize profits .

The students took full responsibility for the maintenance of the plants, many chose to forgo breaks and lunches to water them, as well as organizing and planning the different spaces.

“The pandemic has brought to light that helping children engage with nature, solving challenges and problems in the outdoors is more important than ever and is something our current generation of cellphones is at risk of. miss, ”Gareth said.

To see some of the outdoor learning taking place at Johnston, please visit: https://johnston-cp.primarysite.media/playlist/outdoor-learning

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