Friday, June 4, 2010

Broadford, Auchtertyre and Loch Duich Primary

Auchtertyre and Loch Duich Primary Schools
Auchtertyre and Loch Duich where a school cluster and both sites were visited and at differing stages of development of their outdoor curriculum.  With the latest Curriculum in Excellence initiative including a comprehensive outdoors focus, these schools have refocused on their outdoor areas.  Auchtertyre was a large site with lots of areas for students to play in, in the natural areas that were developed over time.  Lots of use was made of tree cuttings, to make temporary fences which over time would decay, and bring their own areas of biodiversity.  There were plenty of areas of placements of cut logs, to encourage minibeasts.  Woodland areas had log cuttings placed where many students were able to build cubbies at lunch time.  Alasdair said this was brilliant particularly with some of their more active, children who often had behavioural issues.  Since they have been involved in building cubbies at lunch time a real improvement in behaviour has occurred.  The school had a number of willow constructions including one constructed of tessellating triangles.  Grants were utilized throughout both sites to develop natural playspaces.

Students worked with a Local National Trust Ranger to plan the play areas in both schools.  Alasdair Earnshaw gave them a brief that addressed both risk management and Curriculum for Excellence guidelines and students with the Rangers guidance were free to develop what they wanted for their natural play spaces.

Part of the new Scottish Curriculum for Excellence had refocused  both schools approach to providing relevant outdoor experiences for students. Relevant, inspiring, engaging education for every child and young person in Scotland was really giving new emphasis to incorporating outdoor learning experiences for students.  The aim being to produce citizens for the future. 

A large number of hawthorn hedging had been planted along the schools boundary.  After investigation the National Trust informed the school hawthorn was a dying species.  It’s one of the biggest supporters of biodiversity as its thorns keep predators at bay. 

Mardi Wood, Principal Teacher was responsible for the fantastic work being done as part of the Eco School program.  Recycling was taken a step further at Auchtertyre where great use was made of disused soccer goals, two were tied together and used as the frame for a large willow dome. At  Loch Duich disused Crocs (shoes) and  boots festooned fences and were filled with soil and small plants.  There was even an old sink being used as a planter.

Loch Duich had been assessed the previous day for their Green Flag as an Eco School.  There was a plethora of literacy and numeracy activities associated with the outdoors and the environment.  Located on the banks of the loch extensive use of this natural resource at their doorstep was made.

The school is heavily involved with the John Muir Award.  The John Muir Award is an environmental award scheme focused on wild places. It encourages awareness and responsibility for the natural environment, in a spirit of fun, adventure and exploration. The Award is open to all, and is the educational initiative of the John Muir Trust. Four Challenges are at the heart of each John Muir Award; discover - explore - conserve - share.  It was a very enjoyable afternoon spent talking with Alasdair  and I really appreciated the time he gave me.


Joan said...

Interesting Stuart ...the names are a bit difficult to pronounce I think. Its begining to look a bit cooler...but still lovely and green.

Stuart Cumming said...

yes getting cold now.

Susan Phillips said...

Hi Stuart and Jen. The schools that you are visiting all look so green and seem to all have environments and playgrounds that make it exciting for the kids to play. Its wonderful to see how all the communities work with the local schools over there to encourage the children to learn about their environment- I bet you will come back with some great ideas!

dylan said...

hey mr cummings that looks awesome wish i could be there hope your having fun.

Stuart Cumming said...

Hi Sue Today Stuart is at a conference then he and I will be visiting a kindy where 80% of the learning is done outdoors, regardless of the weather!! Tomorrow back down to Edinburgh where Stuart wants to revisit with a group that amongst other things run after school environmental programs, then down to Wales on Friday to spend a week with a group of students on camp there. Scotland is amazing and with these late, late nights..not dark till 11pm, you can fit so much into 1 day!


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