Monday, May 31, 2010

Isle of Skye

Isle of Skye Pictures

This weekend is a long weekend in Scotland.  Currenly we are on the Isle of Skye. 

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Saturday, May 29, 2010

Earth Calling Edinburgh

Day 12 Edinburgh
Today’s visit was with Gus (Angus Egan)  the Manager of Earth Calling (EC) “a virtual stomping-ground of Earth Calling, Lothian’s leading provider of inspirational, hands-on environmental education, Grounds-for-Awareness-approved grounds development and wildlife fun and experiences for primary and secondary school aged young people.”.
 I met Gus at Blackhall School, which has 300 students.  They have developed a woodland on the school site over the past 12 years. We then went to Davidsons Main PS a school which is just beginning to develop a woodland on the school site.  It was great to see one school at the beginning of its ground development journey and comparing it with a school that has an established natural resource.

Gus was involved with the Forest Schools, where groups of students were taken to local woodland areas for 1 day a week for 6 months with the focus being on teaching woodland ecology.  This approach had a major impact but on a limited number of students due to funding constraints.  The concept of bringing a woodland into your school and incorporating that into the curriculum has a far more wide ranging impact.

Earth Calling is very much a hands on approach.  They recognise learning in the classroom is important, but getting outside and experiencing a natural classroom is far more successful in ingraining learning into students.  Rather than learning from books about the Amazon Rainforest, utilising school woodlands is a far more practical approach.  Earth Calling runs after school Woodlands Clubs for a large number of Edinburgh schools.  This is funded jointly through P and C’s and local council.  Children learn to appreciate and interact with nature.  A recent after school BBQ included nettle soup, wild boar and squirrel sausage, so students were able to identify which wildlife and plants can be eaten.

Gus had a fantastic relationship with the students which I picked up on very quickly.  He talked about the success of his organisation and it being so child friendly, treating children as equals in these settings, making it a rewarding experience for all concerned.  I spoke briefly with the Head Teacher at Blackhall School who put the success of the school’s outdoor program down to being a joint partnership with a number of contributors.  Gus’s organisation Earth Calling, parents, students, community groups, staff and local businesses all contributing.

Grounds development is a long term approach.  Initially Blackmore School had a 5 year woodlands development plan, however this in now into its 12th year and the planning continues, but has no end date.  The Head Teacher commented that what made an exceptional school in grounds development was a long term consultative approach where the outdoor grounds become part of the fabric of the school.

It initially began with a Grounds for Awareness grant of L1000, however after 12 years a mature woodland boasts hedgehogs and badgers.  The badgers can be viewed on EC’s website where a night webcam has been set up. They also had a “minibeast hotel” which consisted of a box with various natural materials to encourage minibeasts, which the students had made.  To observe the minibeasts they simply pulled out a natural material which would uncover minibeasts! 

The school had student Wildlife Rangers, who were responsible for monitoring and looking after the schools woodland area.  Written applications and interviews ensured this highly sought after responsibility was allocated to eco friendly committed students.   Over 100 written applications were received for a limited number of ranger positions.

The other school visited was Davidsons Main PS.  This had a huge school ground and EC has just assisted them in developing a large woodland area within in the last month.  The area included willow thatching, a board walk with wheel chair access and a large outdoor classroom which was 30 logs randomly interspersed and to access it students had to walk through a willow tunnel.

Interestingly, both schools have ponds which were fenced and had been approved by the local council.  Earth Calling led by Gus is passionate about the environment and educating students to be earth aware and that small changes by a number of people can make a difference. Earth Calling is achieving and I was privileged that I was able to spend the morning with Gus. Link to Pictures Edinburgh

Friday, May 28, 2010

Forth Environmental Link & Grounds for Learning (Stirling Scotland)

Churchill Fellowship – Stirling.

I met this morning with Di Blackmore from the Forth Environment Link (FEL) which delivers successful programmes at grassroots level with the aim of informing and encouraging environmental awareness and more sustainable lifestyles.  Di talked of Earth Education which was initially set up by Steve van Matre and Joseph Cornell.  They promoted heuristic play (an experience-based technique that helps in problem solving, learning and discovery). 

Central to this approach is using real life objects for play.  The FEL had a large number of resource boxes that were available for loan to schools.  These boxes had numerous real life objects such as bones, bark, shells, rocks, soil in them and these were available for schools to use for this heuristic play.  Di talked about getting the message across to teachers that there is no topic that you can’t take outdoors.  Traditionally teachers have been limited to science and natural environment type subjects.  She gave an example of a school who were studying Mary, Queen of Scots.  They were learning about the plants, traditional medicine of the time and climate…that is to say, not seeing the outdoors as an add on, but being at the heart of the topic.

FEL are developing capacity building amongst teachers, by utilising the Train the Trainer model rather than them delivering ad hoc PD to individuals.  They believe in getting people outside.  Outdoors is where society meets the world.  Some teachers are initially frightened to move learning outdoors as they are not the font of all knowledge and often students are more knowledgeable than the teachers.  FEL promoted and believed in action through education to develop and encourage sustainability.  The head, hand and heart philosophy promoted by Sue Humphries, Coombes founding Head Teacher educates children to make decisions for themselves. This means you put a concept into the students head, teach it through their hands and they pick up the belief for life in their heart.

Changing the “odd to be green” thinking is vital and this is being achieved through educating children.  There was a big focus on recycling and getting recycling into schools. Eco Schools focus was on litter.  Both schools I visited in Stirling today had the Eco flag flying.   Di also spoke about the Royal Society of Prevention of Accidents / and how this organisation analysed risk benefit in outdoor learning play areas and endorsed this approach as being beneficial.  When soft floor playground surface was introduced, injuries increased as children felt the risk of a hard surface had been removed so were less careful in managing their own risk.

Stirling Council has introduced an inside/out outside/in policy which lays out what the Stirling Council’s expectations are from early year’s outdoor experiences at schools.  This has encouraged the approach from many previously uncommitted schools. Utilisation of other services was encouraged to make communities work together and avoid duplication. e.g  Ranger services assisted in making bird boxes for schools, bringing in people who are passionate about their interests is also encouraged…when a class were studying flight, the local pigeon racing club visited the school with their pigeons! 

I visited 2 schools today in Stirling…East Plean PS and Forth River PS and also a community outdoor adventure playground.  Featured in these schools were a sensory trail, puddles, wildflower plantings, willow tunnels, vegetable gardens, bird feeders, and diggings and they made fantastic use of natural play areas.  Di is passionate about environmental education and it was extremely worthwhile spending the morning with her.

 Grounds for Learning

This afternoon I had a meeting with Alastair from Grounds for Learning.  (GFL)  We were made welcome by the other Grounds for Learning team – Steve and Eileen. Alastair was very generous giving me his time at very short notice.

 GFL is the Scottish program of the Learning through Landscapes based in England.  GFL have three main areas of focus.  Promoting outdoor education, practical projects such as grounds development and professional development for teachers.  Alastair was very generous giving me his time at very short notice.  Felicity is the Learning through Landscapes contact person in Winchester  for schools who can take out a membership.  Membership entitles schools to contact, question and seek feedback or advice for outdoor education.  Alastair also spoke of Mary Jackson, another Churchill Fellow from the UK who may have contacts in Australia.

One of their aims is to look at how schools can use what they already have in promoting outdoor education and a lot of their work is focused on their website which is being developed as a one stop shop.  The GFL team thought in terms of hardware (the physical grounds) and the software i.e the culture of the school and how to develop both those areas.  GFL promoted using outdoor education to engage parents who were reluctant to be involved in schools.  One example was where parents spent an hour planting wildflowers with their children.  It would have been a lot simpler to plant this area himself, however the outcome wasn’t only about planting seeds, but getting parents to participate in school activities.  It was a non-threatening way to get parents into the school.  Another example was a teacher arranged for a mosaic feature to be displayed at the front of the school.  Children who bought in broken china and glass were able to work on the mosaic, but only if a parent was with them, for 1 hr each morning.  Children were so keen to participate that they put pressure on their parents to come to the school and stay for the hour with them.  Again a non-threatening environment for parents to participate in.

The Scottish Govt. has put together a number of publications to promote “green” education.  A publication “Wee Green Fingers” funded by the Scottish National Heritage Trust provides each Kindergarten aged child with a starter pack which includes seeds to plant and practical activities.  Children are encouraged to take these home and work together with their parents to utilise them.

Curriculum for Excellence through Outdoor Learning is another publication which legitimises the GFL ethos. They have a well developed website that includes a significant section on Outdoor Learning.  The only real issue for some schools is a lack of funding to support the initiative.  The Government is supportive and provides guidance.  GFL is working with 30 + schools on their outdoor play areas.  Each development operates on an average budget of approx L4000.  Utilising local materials, volunteers, local contractors, parents and students assists greatly in not only reducing costs but maximises community participation.

GFL sees outdoor grounds development as not a one off makeover, rather an ongoing, slow and steady grounds development.  A consultative approach and involvement from the whole community ensures the longevity of these projects.  Some of the current projects GFL are working on include orchard projects where traditional crops/varieties are planted, natural play area projects and developing woodland play areas.  Many schools are fortunate enough to have woodland areas in their boundaries and are utilising these as outdoor classrooms, however the challenge in many schools is to open these previously out of bounds areas up to students for free play during breaks.  Schools I have visited, including East Plean PS in Stirling were making fantastic use of these areas during break times.

GFL were promoting nature as a daily ongoing part of school life, not an intermittent procedure.  Using outdoor learning to promote nature on an ongoing basis develops in students an ongoing empathy with nature.  The office location of Grounds for Learning in Alloa just east of Stirling, reinforces the message of the GFL team that nature and the outdoors can coexist with a modern world. 

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Beautiful Scotland

Thursday, May 27, 2010

Beautiful Scotland

Today we are in a most historic town called Stirling and Mr Cumming is meeting with some people here, so I thought I would hijack his blog and tell you about some of the less educational but beautiful scenery we are seeing.

After leaving Glasgow we drove north along the edge of Loch Lomond which I have always wanted to see because when I was growing up we were taught a song about Loch Lomond. A Loch is what we call a lake and although this was not that wide it is long and on the other side of the Loch beautiful mountains roll down to the water.  There are so many old buildings everywhere, you can't believe it.  Castles, ruins, manors, churches....some, people are living in, others are there for people to look at.  After Loch Lomond we headed west and up to Fort Williams and again on the way up there, there were mountains, lakes, castles!  We stayed the night at Fort William overlooking a Loch which we loved and then the next morning headed up to Ben Nevis...I have been told that a Ben is a mountain and a Glen is a I hope that's right. We caught a cable car 1/2 way up a mountain range and then Mr Cumming and I went for separate walks, with Mr Cumming going off the track as per usual to climb up to some snow, where he filled his water bottle.  He loves climbing mountains particularly where there is snow! 

We then heard about the Glenfinnan Viaduct which was the bridge used in 3 Harry Potter films where the Hogwarts Express travels across it, so we thought we must go there and take some pictures, especially for Chloe Anderson as I know how much she enjoys reading Harry Potter.  That was absolutely unbelievable. I didn't realise a bridge could be so beautiful and for me it was quite breathtaking.

We continued up to the west coast to a place called Mallaig, a very picturesque fishing village with oceans on one side and mountains on the other.  The roads are very narrow in most of these towns with buildings right on the edge of the road.  We think we could see the Isle of Skye across the ocean and we hope to go up there next week. We then headed back inland and up to a place called Glencoe where there were the most magnificent mountains and waterfalls.  It looked like something out of the dinosaur ages and Mr Cumming has said he will be coming back to Scotland one day to climb those mountains.  All along the edge of the road are poles a couple of metres high and these are so people can find the roads when there is snow.  It is hard to believe these mountains could be covered in snow as the only snow we are seeing is right on the very top of these high, high mountains.

We are now in Stiriling and I know there is a huge castle here with a moat that we will go and look at once Mr Cumming is finished working.  It doesn't get dark till around 10.30pm so you can fit a lot into 1 day.  Mr Cumming went for a walk late last night to the castle and said he nearly fell into the moat and was going to have to wait for a knight in shining armour or a fair maiden to come and rescue him.  Fortunately he didn't fall in as I'm not sure there are many of them around any more!!  This afternoon we head off to Edinburgh, the capital city of Scotland and I have been told this is another beautiful place.....there are so many!! 

Hope all is well at Withers...I heard you are having loads of rain..we have been very rain as yet.  Hope you are all enjoying the blog and I know Mr Cumming is really keen to talk with you all about what he has found in schools in Scotland and England.  Take care.....Mrs Cumming

More Pictures Glasgow Schools


Wednesday, May 26, 2010

Glasgow Schools Day 2

Churchill Day 9 (Glasgow Day 2)

Kelvindale Primary School

Kelvdindale has 450 students and is in a nice area of Glasgow with a very supportive parent group.  Dorothy and Julienne showed us around. They are an Eco school and were proudly flying their green Eco flag out the front.  As an Eco school they maximise recycling their rubbish.   There is huge parent support in the school for their organic garden.  After school gardening club is run by parents twice a week with up to 25 students participating.  I was shown the organic vegetable garden by Angus – a parent who ran the gardening club and his enthusiasm was highly evident and contagious.  During Gardening Clu children were free to garden or just be in the area.  Last week for example they volunteered to tidy up illegal dumping that occurred in the schools woodlands.  This then became a school project with letters to the Council and a general concern by the students.  I was particularly impressed by the students we sspoke to and their knowledge of their local school environment was wonderful.

Statistically, 90% of gardeners garden as a result of seeing seen their parents garden.  With a lot of the students living in high rise apartments, gardening may have missed a generation and now the school has allowed students to experience the benefits of having their own garden.  Allotments are available however there is a minimum 7 year waiting list and sometimes up to 30 years waiting!

The school had a large native woodland area that they were making extensive use of in lessons.  Development of the new National Curriculum to incorporate the woodland area ensured classes used this resource across all learning areas.  Woodchip paths in the woodlands had been constructed by local conservation groups.  Additionally Grounds for Learning Government grants of up to L10 000 were available to develop outdoor classrooms.  Students had submitted a plan for this together with a number of fundraising activities and the construction of this school’s outdoor classroom will commence shortly.

The Royal Bank of Scotland will provide 20 employees for 1 day to help build this facility.  This is seen as being part of their community responsibility.  Private business, parental and student support is indicative of a whole team approach to education.  The outdoor Eco approach appears to be endorsed throughout the community and after listening to the students who spoke with me, their enthusiasm, knowledge and commitment for the environment will ensure ongoing success with this initiative.

Eco School is run by the Federation for Environmental Education.  This group began recently and has gradually spread to countries across the world.  Although it is in New Zealand it has not reached Australia.  There aim is to bring learning to life through the use of the outdoor environment.

Hazelwood Primary School is a school for 42 vision impaired students, aged from 2 – 19 years.  The majority also had additional intellectual and physical disabilities.  There were 60 staff members.  The school is approximately 3 years old and was built on a parkland  where a lot of the established trees remain. There was extensive use of vegetable gardens throughout the school.  This included specially raised beds that allowed for wheelchair access.  There was a greenhouse that was accessible to all students and this was very much a multi sensory approach.  Fruit trees have also been planted throughout the grounds.  A webcam in one of the numerous nesting boxes that had been placed throughout the ground allowed the students to observe the hatching of chicks.

Students had use of the entire school grounds during breaks and despite the many challenges facing these students they were encouraged to experience the outdoors daily.  For me, this reinforced risk taking is important and develops childrens’ understanding of their limitations.  Attempts to make play areas safe often goes overboard and prevents children from maximising their potential. 

In all schools I have visited so far, there were initial concerns from staff about the increased risk from outdoor play areas.  At Hazelwood, minor injuries did occur however these were no more than would be experienced in a general school playground.  Any sceptics concerned with the risk associated with outdoor playing areas should come to Hazelwood and see these students playing in outdoor free play areas and their concerns would be quickly dispelled.

Glasgow Schools

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Tuesday, May 25, 2010

Glasgow Schools

Today was spent with Mark Irwin, the Sustainable Development Officer for the City of Glasgow.  This local authority is so committed to environmental education in primary schools that they have committed funds to employing Mark, who currently works with a large number of schools in the Glasgow area. Mark has a science and biology background and has worked in numerous locations throughout the world.

Our first visit was Oak Grove Primary, where I was shown around the school by two senior students, one with a Celtic background and one an immigrant from Russia.  The Head Teacher,  Jane Cerexhe spent considerable time chatting with Mark and myself.  Oak Grove Primary’s catchment area consists mainly of council flats and in many cases there is nowhere for the children to experience the outdoors, except at school.  Their outdoor classroom had a blackboard mounted on a wall, a number of fruit trees, a seated reading circle (square), a mud play area, mini beast area.  Children didn’t use this area at recess or lunch.

 Initial reluctance by some was overcome through staff linking the current curriculum to what could be done in the outdoor classroom.  That is to say they weren’t taking on additional work, but were delivering the same material in a more hands on/practical way.  Every class has bought in to different aspects of the curriculum that are set down in an across-the-school planner…e.g P4 task is compost waste management, P6 manage the mini beast area.  The outdoor class is not an additional task or add on, it is delivering the same curriculum but in a different way.  The curriculum is the driver.

Steve, from Grounds for Learning was working with students on planning for an outdoor nature based play area.  He had taken the students outside for a walk around the grounds and then gathered them for sit down interactive session on what they liked and disliked in the playground.  He had a number of pictures of possibilities and students collected what they were interested in and made a photographic montage of what they would like to see happen for their school.  The school had received a small grant to work on the free play area and as in other schools I have visited, the children drove the program.

The school has just expanded its grounds through absorbing the grounds of a city based Language Centre building that was resited.  Using the Grounds for Learning model, I can see how limited funding can go a long way to achieving what the children want to happen.

Merry Lee PS Head Teacher Elizabeth Mahindru showed Mark and I around the school.  The school is 2 years old and has very well developed outdoor free play areas.  There are allotments behind the school where the school has an allocated area to grow vegetables.  There is a large wind generator that promotes reusable energy which is part of the school curriculum. Although only 2 years old, the outdoor play area was an exciting place for students.

Initially the students were taken offsite into different parklands and were allowed to play.  They were then surveyed as to what they most enjoyed in these dense parklands.  Responses included rolling in long grass, playing in water, hiding in the undergrowth, climbing over fallen trees, rolling down hills.  The students then worked with a landscape designer and planned the outdoor play area.  The local Council approved all but the pond and water areas which are still being negotiated.

 Parents were involved extensively in the consultation and development stage.   A major concern from staff and parents was the health and safety aspects.  Holes in grassed areas were seen as potential hazards, however cracks and potholes in hard surfaced areas (bitumen) were common and often unrepaired.  This was pointed out to parents who could see the irony.  Staff concerns about doing duty in muddy areas was  overcome by providing Wellington boots to duty teachers.

A research scientist looked in to children’s accidents in play areas and found that there were far more injuries in playgrounds with tarmac than in developed free play areas.  Since the development of the free play areas there has been nil injuries in that area, whereas grazing and minor injuries are an ongoing occurrence on the tarmac.


There was lots of thatched willow tunnels, huts and walls, really encouraging the children to find their own space.  There were fruit trees, large boulders for stepping stones, a rope bridge, wine barrels submerged in the dirt (to hide in), reading circles and a number of quiet areas for children to escape to.

Kindergarten staff were concerned that the area wasn’t fenced, however since utilising the area the K’s know the boundaries and due to the fantastic play area have no intention of leaving anyway.

Using the allotments to grow vegetables developed a close working relationship with many of the elder members of the local community.  The school has a number of business partnerships and links, some of which play for two community work days per year, which is appreciated.  There appears to be a greater corporate responsibility across the UK.  Any developments close to a school require the developers to inject funds into community projects.  Schools are often the beneficiaries of these.  When the outdoor play area was complete, parents were the first people to play on it during the official opening held in the evening. Children respect and care for the area  and despite being open to the community no vandalism occurs.  In summary, an outstanding outdoor area and inspiring to see what can be achieved in two years.

Toryglen PS was surrounded by high rise flats.   The school is fighting a constant battle against vandalism and disaffected youth who constantly destroy outdoor developments. A recent thatched willow hut was destroyed after 7.5 hours of completion.  I was impressed by the large greenhouse, constructed entirely of recycled plastic bottles.  Windows along one corridor were painted out except for small ‘spy holes”.  Bushes outside these windows had bird feeders and an endless number of birds used these feeders.  Students had binoculars and bird identification charts and were able to observe the birds in their natural environment without disturbing them.  The Head Teacher is doing a wonderful job in a challenging environment.

More Pictures 

Tomorrow I'm off to visit two more schools, including one school with 40 students who are deaf and blind.  The outdoor areas are really special places for these students.  Mark will be taking me along to what I'm sure will be more inspirational Glasgow school. 

Monday, May 24, 2010


Drove up to London to pick up Mrs Cumming, then the long drive to Glasgow.  After arriving we went into Glasgow for dinner.  Glasgow is just full of historic buildings.Glasgow

I'm off to visit Glasgow schools over the next two days with Mark Irwin the Sustainable Development Officer with Glasgow City Council.  I hope to see how the partnership between local schools and the council has enhanced the children's outdoor education experience.  At Withers Primary in Australia there may be some practical application with our Maidens Reserve Habitat Project and Partnership with the City of Bunbury.

Thanks to all the Withers students who are following this Blog, and especially to Room 3 who I hear from often. 

Sunday, May 23, 2010


I went up London to visit some famous sites.  
  • Houses of Parliament
  • Big Ben
  • Tower Bridge
  • Tower of London
  • Nelson's Column
  • Trafalgar Square
  • River Thames
  • Memorial Column, Which I climbed up  inside spiral stairs.
  • Westminster Abby
  • Buckingham Palace
  • 10 Downing St
Cars have to pay a extra tax to travel in London, so most people travel on trains which in London are all underground. 
See if you can match the pictures to their names.
More London pictures

Brighton Beach

The first picture is a railway viaduct that was built in victorian times. The bottom two pictures are of Brighton Beach . I won't complain again about crowds at Backbeach again.

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Saturday, May 22, 2010

Windsor Castle and Eton College

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On the way back to Brighton from Coombs I visited Windsor Castle home of Queen Elizabeth II.  The castle was amazing.  The chapels and main rooms where the Queen hosts dinners was amazing and have to be seen to be believed.  

The Coombes

The Coombes Primary School (Reading)

Fabulous school. The Outdoor’s program was embedded throughout the school.

Students who were in trouble sat in the staff room. This didn’t appear to be a common practice but was accepted on the day necessity, however enabled teachers to be free. Support staff as in all other schools were on duty at lunch time. These staff then had a 30 minute break once the children returned to class.

Students played throughout the grounds at lunch time. There were two distinctive sites and the older and younger students had separate play areas. The Head Teacher who began the school was obviously a real visionary and the school has developed, over time, outstanding grounds and environmental program. Visitors are common, a group of Dutch student teachers ware visiting on the day I was there.

Paths were a real feature. Wood chips which were a very good environmentally friendly alternative to limestone paths abounded. Use of waste from the local government clean ups were beneficial to both agencies. Paths twisted and turned throughout the grounds. Children just loved running and exploring these. They really added to the area of the school, giving the appearance that the school was a great deal larger than was the case. There was even a path that was well hidden and went around the perimeter of the school. You felt as if you were in a hidden forest while on this path. Children utilized these paths and were more often than not out of the site of duty staff. This was no accident and was how they were designed. The Head Teach likened it to a garden, “You don’t want to see it all at once, you want to be lead to different areas”

There were countless areas classes could use for lesson outside. Numerous story circles, an unbelievable “enchanted” story chair, amphitheatre, sitting areas. Countless vegetable plots “allotments” as they are known here, which classes were free to use as they saw fit. Again fruit trees abounded, and were interspersed throughout the school rather than in a specific orchard. There was what appreared to be a large forest that included species from throughout the UK. Really gave the school depth. Wonderful areas to take children without having to go off site.

The school oval “field” was out of bounds at lunch times but with all the other activities on offer this was not an issue. There were lots of small rooms used as classrooms for small group instruction that were interspersed throughout the school. A tree house was a well used room. This wasn’t used for playing in during breaks but as a learning area during class times for small group instruction.

There was lots of inexpensive playground gear. Logs, concrete blocks, tyres filled with cement. There wasn’t soft fall under these areas. The A/Head Patrick Prichard explained children needed to learn their limitations, risk taking was a part of life and children soon learn what they can and can’t do.

Again as in other schools I have visited many children at lunchtime we off on paths or areas out of sight of duty staff (Teacher Assistants) children were trusted to behave and did. If something untoward occurred children would find the teachers. There was not a sense of all children had to be visible to the duty teacher. Little nooks and crannies were developed as play spaces rather than blocked off. A “Chill Out Area” was one such place where children who just wanted some quiet time could sit. A computer club operated daily by Carol the ITC teacher and this was full of students on line and having fun. There was no compulsion to be outdoors at break times.

The local town is adjacent to an army barracks. The barracks contributes to works at the school through the provision of labour and machinery as required.

The environmental direction of the school has been achieved over time, with the school’s board of governors’ fully behind the Head Teacher in the overall grounds development.

Paths. Use of willow to develop paths, this is grown on site to involve students and cut down costs. A geology trail existed with huge stone structures from all over the UK interspersed throughout the site. Many of the stones had rules, saying and the like carved in them. Literally written in stone.

Adventure Playground. Use of large logs just piled on the bitumen surface was really popular with students. Vegetation from dense undergrowth to open woodland was close to classrooms.
Several ponds had been dug into the grounds and were fenced off. These provided aquatic environments students could utilize for learning. Livestock were also part of the school environment with a few sheep including a lamb fenced of with portable fencing on a side of the oval. Days earlier the mother had died while giving birth. This provided an opportunity to learn about life, and death. Learning opportunist such as these were utilised as they came to hand. The staff appeared very adaptable and able to make the use of opportunities as they presented themselves. An amphitheatre was well hidden in the woodland, which looked capable of seating the entire school if required.

The Coombes School

The Coombes School Visit 20 May (Reading)
More pictures at Coombes School Visit

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Thursday, May 20, 2010

Brighton Pier

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