Outdoor Learning at Meadlands
Here at Meadlands we love to learn outdoors and believe it brings many added benefits to our learning in the classroom. There are many reasons why we love the outdoors:
1. We believe it is our social and moral responsibility to care for our environment and to pass on these skills of nurture and maintenance to our pupils.
2. We believe we have a local and global responsibility to educate our young people about the importance of the natural world to human existence e.g. medicine and food.
3. We believe it is essential to educate our pupils about the current threat to Earth’s natural resources e.g. deforestation.
4. We believe that it is essential for pupils to understand how the food they eat is produced in order that they can live a healthy, active life.
5. We believe that pupils learn best through play and first-hand experience and that fresh air has a positive impact on both learning and wellbeing.
Head Gardener and Groundsman
Roger Howard was a parent at Meadlands more than twenty years ago and had a vision for the vastly underused outdoor space here. With an illustrious career in all things plants (culminating in many years at the Royal Botanic Gardens, Kew), Roger was the perfect person to design and create our wonderful outdoor learning environment — modelled on indigenous British woodland and boasting some rare species of trees. Over the last two decades, Roger has worked tirelessly for Meadlands on a voluntary basis; nurturing and planting trees, coppicing woodland and coming up with new and exciting ways to use the natural world to help educate pupils. Roger’s passion has inspired countless pupils and staff over the years; he is a real asset to our school.
Our Outdoor Curriculum and Forest School
Forest School is an exciting and innovative approach to outdoor learning. Pupils participate in a range of achievable activities, which allow them to explore and to learn to appreciate the outdoor environment. The activities encourage children to develop confidence, independence skills, self-esteem, as well as awareness and knowledge of the natural environment. Pupils are supported to take risks within boundaries and initiate learning themselves. They will learn to abide by the rules and sets of behaviour, work co-operatively in groups and respect each other. At Meadlands our vision is to first use Forest School in the early years to help pupils fully develop with a main focus on speech and language development, with a hope to extend this opportunity to the rest of the school in the near future.
For many years now ‘School Grounds Day’ has been a highlight of the school calendar at Meadlands. Now happening once a term, SGD is a special enrichment day where all pupils are "off timetable" to have lessons outside or with an environmental focus, and to care for and maintain our grounds. With a strong link to the seasons, we kick off the day with a special assembly about what is happening outside at that time of year (Autumn – hibernation, less light, growth slows down). Following the assembly, pupils return to classes and enjoy a mixture of activities throughout the day such as making leaf piles for hedgehogs, observing different habitats or planting bulbs. We like every pupil in the school to plant something each SGD. The day ends with a fun, outdoor-focused Golden Time, in Autumn this could be a game of conkers, in Summer a water-fight! School Grounds Day is about immersing ourselves in the outdoors, learning from, looking after and enjoying our grounds.
However, here at Meadlands, we don’t rest on our laurels and we are passionate about weaving even more outdoor learning through our creative curriculum and topic work. We’ve set all the teachers the challenge of leading at least one lesson outside each week. This could be observational drawing in Art, plant classification in Science or even performance poetry in the Story-telling Circle.
Our Grounds and Habitats:
Large sports field
Multi Use Games Area (MUGA)
Large, paved playground
Outdoor Classroom with electrical access
Story-telling throne and circle
Bug Hotels Pond
Wooded Wildlife area with stag beetles, badgers and foxes
Market Garden with 8 raised beds
Chicken coop with four feathered friends
Tree house / bird hide
Award Winning Grounds
London Flower Society
We have made boundary flags and are now placing them so we know where we can go and explore.
We are going on a Bear Hunt and are learning about positional language.
Years 3 & 4
We are boiling water in the Kelly Kettle so that we can make hot chocolate.
Year 5 & 6
We are making stick families and their habitat along with sawing, drilling and pokey outey for making our own medal. We have learned so much at Forest School