The LOtC Gold Mark
According to the Council for Learning Outside the Classroom:
LOtC Mark (Gold) recognises exemplary LOtC provision in schools and indicates that a school is a leader in ensuring that all pupils have access to frequent, continuous and progressive learning outside the classroom.
Read more by clicking the document below.
A survey of 2,000 parents in United Kingdom finds that nearly three quarters of children are spending less than one hour outside every day.
'Active play is the natural and primary way that children learn. It is essential to their healthy growth and progress, particularly during periods of rapid brain development.'
Sir Ken Robinson
There is much research showing that we spend too little time in the natural world and it has had grave effects on our mental and physical health. Study after study suggests that spending time outside reduces stress for children and adults.
At Whaddon we have a well established Forest School run by our excellent Forest School Leader, Miss Swain. All children take part in a Forest School session once per week.
April 2021: New members of Whaddon School!
During the Easter holidays six small chicks arrived at Whaddon School. They are going to be living at Forest School. The children were, of course, very excited by the additions to the Whaddon family. During our first Wednesday meeting after Easter they discussed how to care for the chicks and treat them with kindness. It was agreed that Squirrel Class would take responsibility for them on Mondays, Tuesdays and Fridays while Hedgehog Class will look after them on Wednesdays and Thursdays. Some of the chicks' names include: Marge, Elvis and Paddington.
November 2020: Remembrance Day
On Wednesday 11th November Hedgehog Class spent time learning about Remembrance day. Later it was their Forest School afternoon. An optional activity was to paint stones with red poppies. A lot of the children chose to do this, leading to good conversations about Remembrance Day.
October 2020: Sponsored Walks
Both classes put their best feet forward this week to complete some long walks to raise money for Forest School. On Tuesday, Squirrel Class walked all morning - about 5km! The weather stayed acceptable and everyone came back smiling. On Friday, Hedgehog Class went for a long hilly walk - the first trip out for the Reception children this year. They worked very hard with the help of Daphne the dog and some cheerful singing, and found several muddy puddles to jump in along the way. Thank you very very much for all the sponsor forms that have been coming in - we will let you know the final total when we have it.
The Reception children are in the middle of a story about Dinosaur Island. They learnt that there was a nest of dinosaur eggs! The children worked together to gather natural materials to create the nest (talking about which materials would work the best and why) and decided when they needed more and when they felt they had enough to make a big nest. Then each child had a lump of clay; they moulded the clay to make an egg before adding stones, small twigs and other natural materials to complete their egg.
In Year 1 the focus has been on... bog babies! If you don't know the story, you should definitely look it up (The Bog Baby by Jeanne Willis). As part of our story we thought about the sort of habitat a Bog Baby might live in, and the plants that might be found there. We went for a walk to find plants to put into a Bog Baby habitat, before creating the habitat back at school.
The final habitat included water, mud and grass with a range of wild flowers. It also had a lot of leaves that had fallen from nearby trees (we named oak, ash and rowan leaves). Finally, we found elder berries and blackberries which we thought perhaps the bog babies might eat.
June and July 2020
When school re-opened on 1st June, six eager Reception children made up the afternoon bubble. We took the opportunity to go on lots of walks in the local area. We took maths and phonics activities with us, sitting under trees in the shade to do our learning. We also did a lot of other learning (some planned, some spontaneous), such as....
- investigating why there were sheep in the field, but lumps of their wool on our path (the other side of their fence). This led to a discussion about wind and wool
- meauring the circumference of a very large oak tree using our bodies
- naming lots of seasonal flowers
- making up a story using a hedgehog and a fox toy and taking photos of them using the ipads
- discussing seasonal changes, weather, temperature and how to keep safe in hot weather.
The children (and adults) really benefitted from being out and about and learning in this way - the children began asking 'are we going for a walk today?'
Both Hedgehog and Squirrel classes have had a very outdoorsy start to the year. The photos below show Hedgehog class on their Autumn walk; we decided to face the rain (with the appropriate clothing!) and see what we could find. We spotted a field that had been harvested, lots of leaves falling from the trees and puddles. A LOT of puddles. The children noticed how the air felt and how the wind was blowing the trees. They collected autumnal treasure and enjoyed taking shelter under a large tree.
The whole school received an invitation to spend the morning learning about Mr Gurney's farm. We popped next door to the field (where the bullocks had been temporarily moved) to meet Mr Gurney. First, the children saw some sheep being sheared and learnt about what their wool was used for. Then they were introduced to three tractors - one 50 years old, one 25 years old and one that was only a year old. Mr Gurney showed the children how the new tractor could drive itself - they were amazed!
Then the children had a tractor-and-trailer ride around the farm fields, meeting and learning about bullocks and sheep on the way. After that, Tom took them into the middle of a crop to learn about worms and their importance to the ecosystem.
The children had a wonderful morning and came back buzzing with excitement. Thank you to Mr Gurney and all of his helpers!
Year 2 heard the story 'Where the Wild Things Are.' They travelled to the land where the wild things are to observe the creatures there. Upon returning, the children re-created the creatures and the land using clay and outdoor materials. Following this they wrote non-fiction reports on their creatures.
Following an impressive fund-raising mission by Miss Swain, the children and the parents of Whaddon School, there is now a beautiful tree house installed at Forest School. The children were so excited to find it when they returned after the Easter holidays. One day, when the younger trees have grown, it will be entirely concealed by woods!
A further development has been a covered area in the KS1 outdoor area. This means that the children will be able to go outside to learn even when the weather tries to prevent them. It also means the children's wellies have a new home!