NRW supports Flintshire County Council to get more schools learning in the natural environment

Teachers in Flintshire on an outdoor learning course run by NRW

Natural Resources Wales (NRW) is working with Flintshire County Council to increase outdoor learning opportunities for learners across the county.

Natural Resources Wales (NRW) is working with Flintshire County Council to increase outdoor learning opportunities for learners across the county.

This is part of an initiative by the Council to provide training and support for schoolteachers and practitioners so that they can increase the amount of time spent learning in, about and for the natural environment.

Outdoor learning is advocated by the Welsh Government as a key approach to delivering the new Curriculum for Wales. It is also widely recognised for its significant health and wellbeing benefits.

Initial research by Flintshire County Council’s Education team suggests that, currently, Foundation Phase pupils (3-7 year olds) in the county spend around 30% of their time in outdoor spaces adjacent to their classes, whilst Key Stage 2 learners (7-11 year olds) spend about 10% of their time on outdoor activities.

The Council has partnered with NRW to help achieve the aim of increasing the amount of outdoor learning that is delivered by schools in the county, especially amongst 7-11 year olds.

Jane Borthwick, Senior Learning Adviser at Flintshire County Council explained:

“We have added a bespoke target to our annual business plan to support our schools to increase outdoor learning.
“We know there is very good practice in delivery of the forest school approach in the county and that schools do focus on outdoor learning through focused days and sessions. Our aim is to equip more practitioners across more schools to be able to provide learning in the outdoors as a natural element of the Curriculum.
“As part of the Flintshire business plan, and in conjunction with the regional school improvement service, GwE, we are offering a series of training and access opportunities for teachers and pupils to get into the outdoors and gain more strategies for effective outdoor learning.
“We’re absolutely delighted to launch this programme with a series of introductory sessions led by NRW over this half term. We really appreciate having the expertise and experience of NRW’s Education and Learning staff to help inspire teachers through free training and development.”

The first session was held on Monday (8 November) with another planned for Friday (12 November), involving 41 teachers from across the county.

Sue Williams, NRW Team Leader for Health, Education and Natural Resources said:

“We really commend Flintshire County Council on its county-wide approach to outdoor learning.
“The Welsh Government’s guidance on the new Curriculum for Wales states that there should be parity between indoor and outdoor learning. Using evidence from their schools’ survey, it’s great to see the Council act proactively to increase how much learning is done outdoors to bring it closer to the amount of time spent in the classroom.
“We’ve designed our sessions to be as interactive and hands on as possible in a way that gives teachers the motivation and the tools to be able to deliver more learning experiences in an outdoor setting and help establish pro-environmental behaviours from a young age.”

Natural Resources Wales has developed a natural progression model to help explain that everyone has the potential to move, step by step, from being in and connecting with the natural environment to establishing lifelong positive behaviours that will encourage all of us to look after our world. Further information about this can be found on the Education, Learning and Skills pages on the NRW website.

Further information on the multiple benefits of outdoor learning can be found be found on the Outdoor Learning Research page on our website.