Today means back to school for many. And at Reepham Primary School ALL classes can look forward to outdoor learning for the first time. Leader Kate King explains why she will be wing walking this month to raise funds for a new outdoor classroom, to boot!
My name is Kate King. I am the Outdoor Learning teacher at Reepham Primary School. I am also a mum and have two boys at the school, William in Year 2 and Morrie in Reception. I started this role a year ago and have been teaching outside all year, whatever the weather, to Years 1, 2, and 3. Now we are looking to grow. This academic year I have been asked to teach the whole school as the programme has been such a success.
It has been a very challenging year for the staff and children. We have worked incredibly hard as a staff to provide effective online learning by using the Seesaw app in times of lockdown and have done our best to support children and parents throughout the pandemic. It has been a strange year in education, but we have been excellently guided by our Head Teacher Mrs Ogle and we have pulled together as a team to ensure that the well-being of our children is paramount.
One of the Parents, Jason Greves, had the bright idea to do a wing walk to help raise some serious money. He wanted the money raised to be spent on Outdoor Learning and well-being. His wife, Clarissa Greves, has volunteered in year 1 throughout this past year in our Outdoor Learning sessions, so she has first-hand experience of the benefits of being outside with the children. I was delighted when they approached me with their idea. As the leader of Outdoor Learning, I am very aware that in order to move forwards and continue to provide effective sessions, we need a base. The children need somewhere to get ready, to dry out waterproofs and store resources. The idea to build a classroom outside grew out of necessity.
I think we are all aware of the benefits of being outside, especially in these times. The idea however came from a desire to protect our children and ensure that they were happy at school. By investing in an outdoor learning classroom with resources it is a tangible way to support the school and promote the well-being of the children.
Being outside keeps the children healthy and active. They have more freedom to express themselves as it is a bigger space and they can be noisier and move about, all in a non-judgemental environment. This allows them to feel confident and happier and boosts their self-esteem.
Sessions are linked to the curriculum and encompass opportunities for practical hands-on learning. By setting open ended challenges and allowing time for their own discoveries through play there are endless opportunities for creativity and imagination. Children can develop their communication skills through play and group tasks by negotiating, co-operating, listening to their peers and working together.
In many ways Outdoor Learning at Reepham adopts the ethos of Forest School. Sessions include some tool use and practical activities like den building and having a fire. It takes place over an extended period of time, in our wonderful wildlife garden and hopes to foster a nature connection.
We have set ourselves a target to raise £20,000. Our campaign is off to a very good start. You can follow our progress or donate at www.vmgiving.co/outdoorlearning.
A group of very brave parents, myself included, have signed up for a wing walk where we will take to the skies standing on the wings of a bi plane! I am terrified as I hate anything that moves faster than a snail’s pace! The wing walk is happening in September. We also have two parents running the London Marathon in October and we hope to run a mini marathon for all the children in school. Edie Hopkins in year 3 has set herself the challenge of doing a mini triathlon and other classes are very keen to raise money by having a cake sale. We have opened up the campaign to the whole school and we have had a great response so far.
We are reaching out to local businesses to support us. Original Cottages is our main sponsor. They are based in Reepham and employ many of the parents who have children at the school. Also, King & Company are our other main sponsor as they are going to donate their architect and labour for free to build the classroom. We are approaching lots of other local businesses hoping they will show their support for the school by donating generously.
Everything is up and running and being expertly driven by one of our parents, Rose Levien who is using her expertise in a previous career in fundraising. We are all very excited to be part of this group as it feels great to be doing something for such a brilliant cause. I think we are all terrified about the prospect of getting up on the plane, but I am sure we will find the courage! On a personal note, I could not be happier that we are choosing to put our children’s well-being first. After the year we have all just had – they need it more than anyone.
Raising funds for outdoor learning at Reepham Primary on YouTube