Nature based learning blossoms at Ysgol Abercarn, Caerphilly

Situated on the banks of the River Ebbw, and surrounded by wooded hillsides, Ysgol Abercarn, Caerphilly has been making the most of the school’s grounds to improve pupils’ health and well-being. 

The school’s 97 pupils who are achieving Progression Step 3 (Year 4-6) have been encouraged to learn outdoors and enjoy the freedom that nature provides. 

Here, Mrs S. Rhodes from the school shares her experiences:

“We’ve been using the Jigsaw Outdoors programme to deliver a wide range of activities with sessions being delivered over a half-term period.  Being able to deliver sessions within our school grounds, allows pupils to understand that nature is all around them and changes are taking place constantly throughout the year.  This has encouraged our pupils to become more appreciative of the natural surroundings the school’s grounds offer and has helped them understand they don’t have to travel far from home to appreciate nature.  All the sessions we deliver outdoors carry on with, and support what’s been taught in the classroom.  Hopefully the simple activities that pupils take part in will be recreated within their own gardens, local green space or within their community.”

“We feel that the spending time outdoors builds on pupils learning in the classroom, by enhancing their knowledge in a fun practical way.  It often allows pupils to learn about certain topics in an environment that is best suited for their learning style, for example visual and kinaesthetic learners.  Within all sessions, communication is crucial, especially when discussing their feelings or opinions on matters within a group, or when working within a team to complete a task.  The sessions inspire learners to respect the natural environment and be sustainable in their approach.  Learners are encouraged to show care and thoughtfulness towards nature and wildlife.”

“Pupils enjoy the challenge of learning outdoors, regularly asking “when will it be time for us to go and learn outdoors?”  Delivered to all abilities, the sessions allow all pupils to enjoy and participate.  We complete a range of activities with them from practicing mindfulness which works extremely well outdoors, to gardening.  Our learners are very keen on growing so we’ve designated a garden area to support this with a range of plants and vegetables being grown.  The pupils really engage well, enjoying the freedom to explore, be creative, and experiment within nature.”

“Developing a structured timetable to deliver outdoor education consistently throughout the year has helped pupils to understand the various seasons and their impact on nature and wildlife.  For example, we encourage our learners to notice the changes between seasons, such as bursting buds, changes in natural colour and outside temperatures.  Alterations in natural wildlife behaviour have been examined, and we’ve explored biological events, such as migration, egg laying, flowering, and hibernation.  The learners’ vocabulary and grasp of the correct nature terminology such as plant, leaf, tree, and wildlife names has increased.  Our sessions also link to environmental and sustainability issues affecting our planet and pupils have spent time learning for the natural environment, exploring ways of how they can take proactive behaviour to help combat climate change.”

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