“Out of school, or ‘real world’ learning, is one of the most effective forms of education. It broadens pupils’ outlook, improves motivation, enhances personal and interpersonal skills, and keeps pupils fit and healthy, physically and mentally.”
Real World Learning Cymru Partnership
Pupils in Years 7 and 8 spend one day a week at our unique outdoor school facility in Llawhaden. In the five acres of mixed woodland, meadows and streams on the site, the pupils become immersed in truly cross-curricular, skills-based learning. Literacy, numeracy, science, humanities, music, drama and art are all taught both outside and in our fully equipped classroom.
The outdoor setting enables pupils to learn in a practical, challenging and hands on manner which enhances understanding of key curricular questions and nurtures the development of important life skills.
“The outdoor school provides a valuable and beneficial addition to the curriculum for all pupils, up to and including Year 8. This innovative, carefully-planned provision targets pupils’ thinking and problem-solving skills, and enhances many aspects of their wellbeing. For older pupils, the outdoor school provides useful learning experiences in aspects of biodiversity and ecology, as well as opportunities to gain accredited leadership competencies”.
Estyn Inspection Report 2019
During the 2 years students spend attending Outdoor School, they are able to work towards the following nationally recognised accredited qualifications:
- John Muir Explorer Award
- JASS Gold Award
- CREST Bronze, Silver & Gold Awards
- BTEC Level 1 Supporting Employability & Personal Effectiveness
Pupils are encouraged to think independently and creatively, enabling them to put their classroom learning into wider, real-life contexts. Work is often carried out in small groups, promoting teamwork, communication and responsibility. Pupils also gain a deep understanding of potential risks and how to put health and safety considerations into practice. Almost all projects and activities encourage students to develop the following skills: leadership, time management, organisation, problem solving, resilience and flexibility – all attributes desired by future employers.
Download report on Outdoor School & the Donaldson Curriculum
Outdoor School – Prep
Our outdoor school offers a truly exciting opportunity for our pupils to take their learning out of the traditional classroom.
One day a week our prep children and their teaching staff visit Outdoor School and conduct all their lessons in and around the outdoors. Lower and Upper prep have their day together, whilst Foundation Phase children have their own day allowing their time onsite to be targeting their key developmental milestones.
The centre has a purpose-built log cabin classroom, outdoor playground with mud kitchen, sandpit, water play, along with a sheltered area with log fire for stories and games. There are five acres of woodland and grassland, as well as a pond and stream, all of which can be used to do experiments, test theories, put maths into practice, create poems, sing songs – the list is endless, but one thing is for sure: this is learning at its best.
Lower & Upper Prep
Pupils have the opportunity to become immersed in truly cross-curricular, skills-based learning. They take part in a huge variety of projects and activities all developing their knowledge and interest in science, maths, english, art, drama, history, DT, music and languages. Pupils are encouraged to think independently and creatively, enabling them to put their classroom learning into wider, real-life contexts. Work is often carried out in small groups, promoting teamwork, communication and responsibility. Students also gain a deep understanding of potential risks and how to put health and safety considerations into practice.
During their time at Outdoor School, all pupils are able to work towards the following nationally recognised accredited qualifications:
- John Muir Awards
- JASS Awards
- CREST Star & Superstar Awards
Foundation phase pupils have their very own day every week at Outdoor School where they cover all areas of learning in a bilingual setting (English and Spanish) and where we “seek to use the outdoor environment as a vehicle for transforming the experience into knowledge, skills, attitudes and behaviour” (Welsh Council for Outdoor Learning).
Children work in two targeted groups so that staff are able to deliver skills-based lessons to nursery and reception children and year 1 and year 2 pupils. Estyn have made a general note across schools that the wellbeing, behaviour and physical development of pupils have all improved as a result of learning outdoors and this is something we are able to witness first-hand.
Learning through play in the natural environment creates unique opportunities where children can be active, creative and engaged in their tasks, enhancing physical, intellectual, emotional and social development, all skills for life, not just the classroom. Literacy and numeracy tasks can come alive outside and even the most reluctant learner is keen to get involved. Nature is full of loose parts, so free play in the natural environment is able to evolve through enjoyment and continuous provision.