The benefits of outdoor learning at Bredon School


Learning is about more than books and sums at Bredon School, with staff helping to make outdoor learning an essential part of its educational offering – from lessons on the farm, to military drills and adventure training in its Combined Cadet Force (CCF).

Complementing its program with exciting opportunities to learn new outdoor skills, SoGlos met with on-site farm staff from Bredon School and the burgeoning CCF to learn more about its unique educational offering.

Meet the Experts – Miss Gina Lamb and Miss Charmain Eaton from Bredon School

Miss Gina Lamb is Professor of Earth Studies at Bredon School. Growing up on her family farm in Northumberland, with a working knowledge of cattle farming, arable crops and contracts, she studied agriculture at university and worked as a livestock technician, before becoming a lecturer and teacher.

Miss Charmain Eaton is Head of Uniformed Services and CCF at Bredon School. In addition to her extensive experience in the education industry, with some of her previous roles including Head of Safeguarding and Chef of the Year, she has also served as a Royal Engineer in the British Army in various locations in the UK and overseas for 26 years.

Outdoor education has always been a key part of Bredon School’s offering. Why do you think learning outside the classroom is important?

Miss Lamb: Many students can struggle in the confinement of a classroom and this gives them the ability to shine! Not only are they learning, but they can enjoy using math, science and English in a real-life environment – ​​that’s learning with a purpose.

On the school farm, we need math to be able to calculate food rations or to calculate the cost of a fence job. And other subjects also use the farm to teach. We recently brought in the science department to learn more about genes, selective breeding, and breed differentiation. Our catering students come to see how their food is grown and help out in the vegetable gardens.

The farm teaches our students to work with animals and to respect them as well.

The Bredon school has its own working farm school, where students can learn about animal husbandry, agriculture and develop rural skills.

Miss Eaton: The vision of the CCF at Bredon School is one of support, development and empowerment. Our overarching goal is to foster the development of personal responsibility, leadership and self-discipline; while instilling in cadets a belief that they can achieve, thereby enabling courage and building resilience.

Each cadet uses the CCF as a vehicle to develop their self-confidence, broaden their horizons and learn new skills while having fun.

Miss Lamb, can you describe what a day at the school farm is like? What kind of activities are the students involved in?

Miss Lamb: We are really lucky that our students love the farm. The jobs we do are largely dependent on the time of year and what falls on our herd or our herd’s calendar.

The day starts at 7:30 a.m. Pupils arrive before school starts to help with essential tasks like feeding and cleaning the animals, which means we can spend our daily lessons getting to know them and their needs. For example, we might be doing health checkups with our Grade 8 students one lesson, then tending to sheep’s feet the next. We can electrically fence off a paddock for ponies or install spotlights and rail fencing for cattle.

Our students return to the poultry club at recess, where they feed, empty and collect their eggs to sell at lunchtime. Most often this includes checking the broody hen or incubators.

The students return after a quick lunch for the farm club, where they could complete a project on the farm. Recently we have seen our students training our show animals, which involves putting them in halters and walking them around the school grounds. The afternoon would include another round of plot feeding and watering, with three more on-farm lessons.

Depending on the time of year, the students take care of everything from feeding and shearing to lambing and deworming. It’s not uncommon for a boarding student at lambing time to do our midnight checks.

Bredon students get involved in farm life, take a hands-on approach to learning, and help care for animals and gardens.

Miss Eaton, what about an average day at CCF?

Miss Eaton: It’s very varied. Some of the activities our cadets participate in include field crafts, foot drill, shooting, and physical training. They also have the opportunity to attend various adventurous training, such as rock climbing, winter mountaineering, kayaking, skiing, mountain biking and more.

Since September 2021, we have improved our offer and introduced an enriched program that includes everything from first aid, navigation, self-defense and target indication; observation skills, introduction to the military swim test, platoon combat drills, camouflage and concealment.

We also had ambush drills, discussions of interest with external professionals and the cadets are also learning to teach, through the course in techniques of instruction (CFIT).

How does the CCF and Uniformed Services Course help students develop transferable skills?

Miss Eaton: To aid in the development of our cadets, our training is centered around a core set of values ​​and standards, which we apply to all scenarios and training. They are: courage; discipline; the respect of others; integrity; loyalty; and selfless commitment.

We believe that promoting these core values ​​and standards will enable our cadets to build resilience, be self-reliant, better communicators, enhance their confidence, and promote responsibility, preparing them for life after Bredon.

Cadets at Bredon School take part in weekly training activities and drills, with plenty of opportunities for adventure training as well.

We want to inspire them to succeed in life and that they leave Bredon with the qualities and transferable skills that will enable them to be a good citizen.

As well as giving them access to enrichment opportunities, promoting our core values ​​and ensuring they succeed academically, we also give them the opportunity to gain nationally accredited and recognized qualifications that allow them to apply for jobs from the age of 16. Currently we offer qualifications in first aid, lifeguard training, health and safety and basic food hygiene.

Can you describe why relevant and applied learning is important in education, and how the CCF course and uniformed services is an example of this?

Miss Eaton: At the FCC, we believe it is our responsibility to provide unique and applied learning opportunities to each cadet, as well as to foster meaningful and reciprocal opportunities. Through these opportunities, cadets are able to apply the knowledge and skills learned in the traditional classroom setting to experiential and real-life environments. In addition to instilling core values, we also develop problem-solving, leadership, organizational, teamwork and communication skills, to name a few.

At Bredon School, education is not limited to the classroom. Many departments, including Farm, Outdoor Education, Athletics, and CCF, have an enriched experiential curriculum because we believe it will help our students better connect with theories and knowledge. they learn in class.

Bredon School held its first Combined Cadet Force (CCF) Field Day in December 2021.

Miss Lamb, how does working on the farm help prepare students for life after school?

Miss Lamb: Students can see what needs to be done. They develop a work ethic and take on a role of responsibility. They know when things need to be done and learn the importance of time management. They learn respect for animals and empathy when things don’t go as planned. They must work as a team on many tasks, and the leadership skills they acquire through communication are essential.

How can an outdoor education help close the achievement gap?

Miss Lamb: No matter their shape, size, gender, religion or race: every young person should be able to access education, and all students will struggle with one thing or another. It is how they overcome these issues that will help shape their future. Most of our students suffer from dyslexia or related learning differences; it doesn’t matter to a cow and certainly not to us! It’s amazing to see our students working around tasks and finding solutions in ways you never imagined. I often find myself wondering, “Why didn’t I think of that!

When students struggle to express themselves on a piece of paper, they can often learn best kinesthetically. When they realize they can work with their hands outdoors, it’s amazing to see their mood change. We have students who find it difficult to concentrate in class, which affects their behavior. By giving them a task and a team to work with on the farm, you can see their leadership skills shine through. They will use what they learned in the classroom in the real world – and most often, without realizing it!


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