The ethos of OE is based on a respect for children and their capacity to initiative, investigate and maintain curiosity in the world around them. It believes in a child's right to play; the right to access the outdoors; the right to experience risk in a controlled way in the natural world along with the right to develop their emotional intelligence through social interaction, building a resilience to enable creative engagement with their peers and their potential.
OE is a process that offers all learners regular opportunities to achieve and develop confidence and self-esteem through hands-on learning experiences in a natural environment with trees. It is based on the process of learning - more on the 'how' than the 'what'. OE practice embraces collaborative unplanned, unexpected and ultimately unlimited learning. Children are encouraged to direct their own learning - this is often inspired by the leader either through stimulating play in the outdoors or through 'scaffolding' a child's learning, but mostly through simply observing how children are in the outdoors. The most important thing is to encourage the natural curiosity present in children and to enable them to open their eyes and experience the wonders of the world around them. The environment is central in supporting this approach to learning: the changing of the seasons, to the contemplation of an ancient tree; the dynamic nature of an outdoor environment - an infinite source of smells, textures, sounds and tastes and a range of visual stimuli all contribute to the OE learning experience.
Our OE sessions encourages children to:
Develop personal and social skills
Work through practical problems and challenges
Use tools to create, build or manage
Discover how they learn best
Pursue knowledge that interests them
Learn how to manage failures
Build confidence in decision making and evaluating risk
Develop practical skills
Understand the benefits of a balanced and healthy lifestyle
Explore connections between humans, wildlife and the earth
Regularly experience achievement and success
Reflect on learning and experiences
Develop their language and communication skills
Improve physical motor skills
Become more motivated
Improve their concentration skills
Activities for OE are diverse and numerous, we are trying to create independent learners who are inspired to try out their own ideas, explore their own interests and to attempt new ideas.
Some activities might include:
Fire lighting and cooking on an open fire
Using a Kelly Kettle
Playing team and group games
Rope and string work, tying knots
Art and sculpture work
Woodland and traditional craft
Developing stories and drama, and meeting imaginary characters
To ensure high standards of teaching and learning in the OE classroom, we implement a curriculum that is progressive throughout the whole school. OE teaching follows a whole school long term plan which focuses on outdoor skills and links to learning in other subjects. At Milborne St Andrew First School, we ensure that OE has importance within the timetable.
OE lessons should make learning more relevant to their lives in the community and wider world. We encourage children to be responsible for and respect the local community and environment giving them a sense of belonging and ownership of the place in which they live. We explore the uses of the local area, integrating subjects so that meaningful activities can be planned and delivered effectively and regularly.
We measure the impact of our curriculum through the following methods:
Images and videos of the children’s practical learning.
Interviewing the pupils about their learning (pupil voice).