Wales is renowned as a beautiful rugged and exciting landscape, full of culture, excitement, and opportunities for learning. And outdoor learning is no exception.
Phil Stubbington, current Chair of the Wales Council for Outdoor Learning tells us about the role of the Council and the upcoming Wales Outdoor Learning Week.
“The Wales Council for Outdoor Learning brings together the key national and regional stakeholders involved in shaping high quality outdoor learning and connection to the natural environment. An agile, effective tool that works with Welsh Government to shape the future of out of classroom learning for children and young people, families and communities across Wales. Working in collaboration with Natural Resources Wales, we coordinate #WalesOutdoorLearningWeek each year to:
Celebrate the amazing outdoor learning and nature connection activities, organisations and opportunities, that go on every day across Wales
Raise awareness for the value of taking learning outdoors and the importance that connecting with the natural environment has on people, communities, nature and future generations.
Campaign for increased support and recognition for outdoor learning and showcase Wales as a thought leader in delivering high quality outdoor learning nationwide.
From free CPD training and webinars for teachers and leaders, easy to use resources, films and activities, to celebration events and creating a social media buzz; #walesoutdoorlearningweek provides the platform to promote outdoor learning, provide opportunities for new and diverse audiences and showcase Wales as the premier location for high quality outdoor learning and teaching.
There are so many amazing groups and organisations either providing opportunities to get involved in outdoor learning or developing their own experience through training and learning. Here are a couple that caught our eye:
Following discussions with the school leadership team, Glyncoed Primary School in Ebbw Vale are planning for Wales Outdoor Learning Week to be an opportunity to develop a whole school approach on how to be outside and what you can do with nature.
“We are hoping to highlight sensory opportunities, how to involve learners in observing nature; signs of spring, observational drawings of cherry trees, daffodils, and other spring flowers” – Alice Hadley Glyncoed Primary School.
Forest School is a big part of the approach to learning, at Ysgol Tir Morfa, Rhyl where teaching is regularly taken outside in the school grounds or a local woodland nearby. They even have their own school orchard and polytunnel for growing fruit and veg which are looked after, picked, prepared and enjoyed by the pupils.
With outdoor learning such a big part of day-to-day school life, they are now looking forward to the 2021 Wales Outdoor Learning Week, as teacher and Forest School Co-ordinator Fran Hoare explained:
"The Outdoor Learning Week is a great idea, and we’re so glad it’s back this year. We want to make it a big thing across the school to showcase what we do all year round. We’re aiming for every class to have at least one lesson outdoors every day during the week. There are so many reasons to get involved in outdoor learning. I think one of the main things for us is that being outside offers a far better sensory experience to support learning. We see a massive impact on our students – they undoubtedly benefit from being more active and they enjoy learning about their local environment and how to look after it.”
Whether you are getting involved in a training course, taking a group outside, enjoying seeing and hearing all the hustle and bustle of the week on the news or social media or just using this week to spend a little time outside connecting with nature – enjoy it and make time for yourself and your own wellbeing.
At this critical juncture in our world, with an ongoing global medical pandemic, a climate emergency with no sign of let up and uncertainty all around; the connection with people, nature and community has never been more significant.
Make time, get outside and enjoy yourself, responsibly, whatever you do.