The Lincewood Primary School Outdoor Education Project is starting its fourth year in existence.
It is curriculum-linked and takes the form of a series of weekly one-hour sessions for each class/year group involved. Currently (Autumn 2014) Years 4 & 5 are undertaking classroom based learning on Plotland History and Anglo-Saxon/Vikings respectively, the Project's responsibility being to present the real-world conditions, life-styles, and management of those people in history (in this case) living, working, and moving outdoors and/or in our immediate area. For us this will include the whole of Langdon Hills. Barry Howard is developing a comprehensive learning 'pack' on the Hills covering ancient history, flora fauna, Plotland's history, geology, modern geography, and landforms.
We very much use the outdoors as a living laboratory and cover virtually every subject on a school timetable: practical, hands-on, in all weathers, and expecting pupils to remember what is presented and taught. There is no writing undertaken outdoors.
The challenge of the Project is to enhance the classroom teaching and learning, whilst doing justice to both the subjects and 'being out' - using all aspects of the locale to engage the pupils, interest them on a week-to-week basis, and want them coming back for more. By the end of each academic year we want to hear them say that they learnt by being out.
There is a hidden agenda: it is that 'nature' does its magic and hones pupils interests, acts as a calming influence, opens their eyes - sometimes literally as presenting perspectives some 22 miles away - views from the top of the Hills - is something they would not normally see, merely being content to have a short-distance view of a computer screen or games console. There is of course an implicit physical education and fitness component: we only have a short time to get across the Hills! and get back again, so we occasionally speed march through the woodland.
Above Left: problem solving , teamwork, and communication Above Right: Langdon Hill's Lince Wood, next to the school
The whole of Langdon Hills is being systematically mapped at approximately 1:10,000 scale to provide us with accurate maps - accurate to every tree lining every footpath. The Project expects every pupil to be involved, to follow his/her own passion whereby if they are interested in eg. a particular natural theme, or particular process (eg fire), or weather, or trees, they can - and are allowed - to follow that interest. Unless we celebrate their passion for learning we start the Project much poorer, with somewhat unwilling characters.
Lincewood Primary School is fortunate to have four elements to its site which give us an advantage : 1. We have part of the wild-woodland on-site, inside the school fence. 2. The woodland itself, all 400 acres is adjacent to the school site - and 3. It can be accessed straight from classrooms via a gate directly into the dense wild-woodland. 4. We have a purpose built outdoor education cabin on site [below] which is our base for all Project work.
The Reindeer Lodge.....outdoor education's cabin
Survival Skills Programme: shelter building
Much of the project is undertaken on-site, although with easier access to the woods we have explored the Lince Wood area of Langdon Hills quite extensively. During the academic year 2013-14 Year 6 pupils undertook some very sophisticated Ordnance Survey mapwork across the whole of the area, being able to use 6 figure co-ordinates, recognise a range of landforms from the not-so-subtle (eg valleys and hills) to the absolute complex such as re-entrants, knolls and convex/concave slopes. This was very impressive for 10 and 11 year olds. Their navigation was outstanding - being able to find their way across the whole of Lince Wood using a map with every feature airbrushed away except for contours.
The content of the 2013-14 programme was as follows:
Basic Survival Skills: shelter, water, fire, wild food, first aid and compass navigation.
St. John Ambulance 'Young First Aider Award' for all Year 6s. The pass rate after a gruelling 13 week course was 89.9%. This is the highest pass rate for any school we know of doing this Award.
'Behind Enemy Lines' World War 2 Project including camouflage, search and recovery, first aid, leadership, and modern Special Forces operational skills.
'Problem Solving, Teamwork, & Leadership': developing life skills in communication, caring for their team members etc.
An Exploration of Lincewood including mapwork and natural navigation with the use of a compass.
Geography Week: undertaking a hands-on introduction to (or development of...) the geography of the woodland that is Langdon Hills, including an in-depth study of the natural history and environmental study of the woods.
The detailed and complex history of and search for evidence of The Plotlands: www.lincewoodplotlands.yolasite.com
Numeracy studies outdoors: gradients using clinometers, calculating the age and height of trees, advanced compass work.
Advanced survival skills: edible plants and insects, complex shelter building, base shelter construction, first aid, map making, finding water and filtering/purifying. Fire: three lesson on the complexities of lighting and using. Cooking.
In 2014-15 we will continue to develop the John Muir Award.
Year 5 shelter building Lince Wood summer 2014....and an interesting Design & Technology problem solving exercise!