Outdoor Learning

Primary School to become wildlife haven for bees
Monday, 5 October 2015 Article from the Midsomer Norton Journal

Longvernal pupils will be instrumental in creating a wildflower haven for bees

Longvernal Primary School, in Midsomer Norton, has become one of just 200 sites across the UK chosen to become a wildlife haven for bees. The school joins the Bee World campaign launched by Friends of the Earth to highlight the plight of bees in the UK and provide a wildflower haven for them to feed, safe from pesticides.

The school, which provides a Forest School themed education for its children, is going to create a 30 sq metre space in a corner of their school field and transform it into a glorious wildflower area of long-lasting and beautiful flowers, providing vital food for threatened local pollinating insects.

“The children will be preparing the site over the winter and will then plant the new wildflower meadow in early spring next year,” explained Headteacher, Kerrie Courtier. “Each year, the area will be managed by the children to ensure it maximises its attraction to local bees.”

Kerrie pointed out that, “The plight of the humble bee has shot up the political agenda in recent months, and the Government has agreed to introduce a National Pollinator Strategy. Our children are very excited about the opportunities to care and observe the bees in the new area.”

Forest School Governor at Longvernal, Emma Jones, was key in gaining the haven for the school. “It’s really important that we make more spaces available like this in our communities for bees and other pollinators to feed and flourish,” she explained.

In the past sixty years, a devastating 97% of wildflower-rich meadows have been lost. As part of Friends of the Earth’s Bee Cause campaign, over 100 bee-friendly patches have already been created in towns and rural areas across the UK.

Rainbow Woods trip: 1st June-12th June 2015

The children at Longvernal were fortunate enough to have no less than ten days in this magical woodland near Bath. Rainbow Woods in managed by the National Trust and is truly a unique ancient landscape.

Every child in the school had two days to explore, discover, create, perform and experiment within the woods and they excelled themselves. What was most noticeable was the confidence and ease with which they navigated their way through this large area, creating their own Forest School activities.

The key theme for the visit was ‘tribes’, with the children creating their own tribal face paints and designing their tribal flags.

Painting featured throughout the ten days, with children experimenting with different natural paints and different places to decorate!

Once tribes were established, they then had the challenge of creating a waterproof shelter big enough for them all to fit in comfortably using only the natural materials surrounding us. We were all astounded at the level of commitment and resilience during this task, with even the youngest children dragging large tree limbs through the woods.

Everyone had plenty of free time in which to create their own experience, with some choosing physical activities such as climbing, abseiling, balancing and building slides and see saws...

...whilst others took part in nature hunts, woodland arts, weaving, whittling or even performing woodland plays and songs written on site.

Some just wanted to take some time to try some new tastes from the woodland, under adult supervision. Here we see two girls trying the wild garlic.

No Forest School trip would be complete without a campfire and marshmallows to toast. The children were responsible for sourcing appropriate firewood, building and lighting the fire and putting it out safely afterwards. They are all experienced at these tasks and it really showed during these trips. Well done everyone!!

We have been overwhelmed by how well our whole school Forest School programme has been received so far this academic year.

The children have adapted incredibly well to learning outside the classroom in all weather conditions and have established their own Forest School rules for keeping themselves safe and protecting their natural environment.

All year groups have excelled in their natural observational sessions, collecting natural resources for woodland artwork... and listened well to the safety instructions when climbing trees.

The younger children have been thinking about birds as the weather becomes colder and preparing nests and meals for them and in some instances even obstacle courses!

All year groups have had the opportunity to use tools such as bow saws and palm drills to make woodland medallions, and potato peelers for whittling their bows and arrows.

Following the children's own interests we have created woodland obstacle courses to challenge them physically, added swings and other natural play equipment and have built many types of dens for roleplay and for shelter from the rain. The children have faced social and mental challenges with numerous problem-solving tasks and trust exercises which have found them working successfully alongside their classmates.

Longvernal Primary also saw the development of our ongoing partnership with the RHS. The Children from Chestnut and Oak classes have been preparing soil and learning to be 'cool with tools' and finding friends along the way.

Our weekly after school gardening club has been busy harvesting crops, collecting seeds for next year, weeding and planting hanging baskets and pots.

Forest School could not have had a better start!

An Overview of Outdoor Learning

Longvernal has wonderful outdoor spaces, both around the school and within our local community and we use these to the full. In 2010 we planted a new woodland area to increase the scope of the outdoor class experience and are continually developing the areas to give new opportunities for outdoor learning.

A Forest School provides a higher than usual adult to child ratio and works on the premise of positive relationships and tasks that build self-esteem and confidence.

Longvernal Forest School offers learning across a range of levels. Within our excellent Early Years provision each week children enjoy Forest Fridays when they work outdoors allowing truly first hand experiences and child-initiated learning. Part of our uniform is special wet weather gear so that children are able to explore safely.

Across the school all class teachers plan to include valuable outdoors experiences linked to the National Curriculum expectations but also to interest and enthuse the children. For the youngest children we use the on-site Early Years space which has pebble mosaics, climbing logs and a pirate ship created from natural materials.

At playtimes children use the Playpod resources to create their own structures and dens using recycled materials similar to the opportunities offered by the kindergarten in Denmark.

All children learn how to safely build fires and dens both on site where we have copse and fire pit plus at the Silver Street nature reserve. They also use tools appropriate to their age and learn about the natural environment and how to look after it. The whole school community gets involved with Forest learning such as the 'wellie walk' planned for Easter this year.


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