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The Spinney

Outdoor Learning

"There is no such thing as bad weather, only different kinds of good weather." John Ruskin

Outdoor Learning
Outdoor Learning is a key feature of the curriculum offer at The Spinney Primary School.

Through learning outdoors, children have the opportunity to develop and practise a range of important behaviours, attitudes and skills. These include communication, resilience, social interaction, self-agency and managing risk. In addition, through outdoor learning opportunities children acquire fine and gross motor skills and learn about sequencing and ordering. These are fundamental building blocks which support the learning that takes place in the classroom.

The Spinney works with other partner organisations such as the Cambridge Environmental Education Service and Cambridge Curiosity and Imagination to help deliver its aims.

Our philosophy on the importance of Outdoor Learning at The Spinney School is underpinned by a range of research including that of Tim Gill: "Growing Up in A Risk Averse Society" (2007). Read the No Fear Summary here, as well as the "Project Wild Thing" by film maker David Bond (Project Wild Thing) in addition to many other research publications .

As well as developing learning skills from being outdoors, children also learn about sustainability, ecology and wildlife conservation. The Spinney offers:

  • its own Wild Wood for exploration and discovery
  • a sustainable kitchen garden for growing fruit and vegetables that are used in school lunches by the school catering team
  • an attractive meadow area where children can play
  • a large field with a climbable interactive sculpture
  • an opportunity to participate in the annual RSPB bird survey
  • school council Eco Schools activities
  • visits and visitors to talk about e.g. bee keeping, litter picking, waste management, sustainable transport

As with every learning opportunity, the school is thoughtful about risk reduction and risk management. Just as within the classrooms there are hazards to be managed. The school has a Site Risk Management and Trip and Slip Policy as well as a Wild Wood Risk Assessment.

Where possible the children will have access to the outdoors every day either as part of play times or for curriculum activities. For this reason it is important that your child has the right clothing and kit for the activities on offer, for example PE kits, indoor shoes, wellington boots, raincoats.

At The Spinney we say "There is no such thing as bad weather, only the wrong clothes!"

Cambridge Curiosity and Imagination (CCI)
The school has been working with Cambridge Curiosity and Imagination, a creative organisation that explores intriguing places and allows people to discover the power of imagination and curiosity.

Our Foundation class has taken the lead in discovering this space, spending one morning a week in spring term last year out in the woodland, accompanied by their teacher, teaching assistants and CCI creative practitioner Deb Wilenski, furthering their investigations through creative explorations back in the classroom in the afternoons. This programme of discovery led to the completion of Arts Award Discover for the whole class! This short film shares some of our discoveries:

Shakila Bukhari, a parent and governor at the school, recounts her children's and her own experience in the Wild Woods:

Further information about CCI's work with Spinney children can be found on their website here, and further activity with Spinney children and others can be found here and here.

Links


Partners


Praise for the Outdoor Learning initiative

"I am sure you recall our brief conversation a few days ago at the Spinney school gate. I complimented and thanked you and your team on the thinking behind and the commissioning of the timber playful and stimulating sculptures that seem to have miraculously and delightfully appeared one day on the school field.

They are stimulating on many levels, intellectually, visually, emotionally, physically, and this may be why their presence is so powerful, and so timely with the Wild Wood project that has been so successful last year. These sculptures are an ideal embodiment of how we can interact creatively and sustainably with our natural environment, an inspiring example of up-cycling for our children. They are so lucky to be part of such a stimulating school environment.

I, together with many other parents, revelled at this beautiful timber installation that will no doubt age gracefully with time and become even more rooted in its setting."