Bringing the outside in for schools in South East Wales
The two-year Key Action 1 School staff mobility project ‘Inspiring Outdoor Learning - a vision for Schools in South Wales’ is the first of its kind to be run in the South Wales area.
Led by City of Cardiff Council, the consortium of 18 schools across seven local authorities will come together to improve the quality of teaching methodologies delivering the Forest Schools programme in Wales. Forest Schools encourages outdoor play and learning in a woodland environment.
Teachers will form a regional network and take part in a series of targeted training programmes in Denmark and Iceland. The overarching objective is to develop a sound base of highly skilled professionals offering a model for outdoor learning and Forest Schools.
Teachers will come to the project with a range of skills in delivering outdoor learning to improve the quality of teaching and raise standards amongst young learners. Teaching materials and ideas for developing approaches to outdoor learning will be developed. These will be shared to professionals outside of the project locally, regionally and nationally.
Emily Daly, foreign languages advisor for City of Cardiff Council said: “This project will be the start of some very exciting work between 18 schools from seven different councils. It is a perfect opportunity for the 48 participating teachers to share ideas and experiences, meeting the Welsh Government’s objective to widen peer-to-peer working across schools.”
She added: "Inspirational teaching can only come from inspired, interested teachers. This type of project can only serve the staff and the students positively. We hope for greater independence of the children in all areas of Forest Schools and outdoor learning, improved child-led learning and the further integration of the outdoors into all areas of the curriculum across the whole school year. A deeper understanding of the ethos behind Forest Schools will enhance and contribute widely to pupils’ development and standards, so that it really impacts upon the pupils’ wellbeing and learning."
The 18 schools are divided into three main groups; focussing on developing outdoor learning in a school with no green spaces, pedagogy and the development of teacher competences and advancing the skills of the participating staff. Trained Forest Schools teachers will support the groups, looking at the role outdoor learning plays in the curriculum and how to effectively embed Forest Schools principles across the school. Teachers will develop their skills in developing innovative curriculum activities from their training. In line with Welsh Government guidelines, the group will also explore how to effectively deliver the Literacy and Numeracy Framework (LNF), in an innovative way within their Forest Schools programme.
Cwmaman Infants, Maes-y-Coed Primary School, Tredegarville Church in Wales Primary School, Fairoak Nursery and Lansdowne Primary School are all schools with no green spaces so staff will be looking at ways in which they can develop their skills in developing creative and innovative curriculum activities. Staff from Dolau Primary School, Gilwern Primary School, Millbrook Primary School, St. Joseph’s Roman Catholic Primary School, and Roath Park Primary School will be focusing on developing the LNF across the curriculum. Through training and study visits they will look at pedagogy and the development of competences and creative delivery. Under the guidance of trained Forest Schools teachers, staff from St Fagans Church in Wales Primary School, Ysgol y Wern, Ysgol y Pwll Coch, Ysgol y Melin Gruffydd, Evenlode Primary School, Heronsbridge, Grangetown Nursery and Ysgol Penalltau will revise the ethos of Forest Schools and the important role outdoor learning plays in the curriculum. They will also learn new skills on delivery and how to effectively embed Forest Schools across their school.
As a result of the project, City of Cardiff Council expects teachers to bring a fresh, dynamic approach to teaching. Inspired, committed professionals will drive positive change to the schools' environment and day-to-day teaching methods. This project will make them ready to integrate good practices and methodology learned in Denmark and Iceland for the benefit of the whole school community. A vastly improved outdoor learning environment will stimulate pupils which in turn will have an impact on pupil attainment and standards in schools in South Wales.