The Outdoor Classroom
The Outdoor Classroom (ODC) is an area of woodland within Queens’ School site which is used for a wide range of learning opportunities. The area is managed by a fully qualified Forest School Leader who is supported by the schools Estates Team and a team of teaching staff. Many of the trees are well established, native broad-leaf trees which have decades of growth; they serve as great structures, with their shapes and shadows creating a sense of wonder for inspired learning. More recently, staff, students and a local scout group have planted well over 200 trees. Some will be used for hedging, but others have been planted in circles, in the hope that one day they will provide some exciting places for students to learn.
Outdoor Classroom History
The area started to evolve in 2009 after the school was lucky enough to receive some funding for a STEM project. The money allowed us to employ a Green-woodworking specialist who helped students and staff build the shelter which stands to the north of the ODC site. The shelter is used in wet weather so that lessons take place no matter the weather.
Remember, there is no such thing as bad weather, just inappropriate clothing!
What happens in the Outdoor Classroom?
Learning in the ODC comes in many different forms and and the area is continuously being maintained and developed, making it suitable to be used across the curriculum. Many students find the area to be a positive place to learn and appreciate the time they spend in the woods. Another type of lesson is i:WOOD, specifically designed for Y11 PSE and Y7 form groups where there is a strong focus on resilience and independent learning delivered through a holistic style of teaching. Smaller groups of students also get to use this space and sessions are run through-out the year which tackle specific needs of these students. Also, enrichment days have been taking full advantage of this space; students have been able to build dens in the woodland, camp overnight in shelters and explore the delights of preparing food outside and cooking on camp fires.
Students will experience the outdoor classroom in all seasons and no matter the weather. With this in mind, the time outdoors works best when students are suitably dressed. Please make sure your child wears a coat in cold or wet weather. Also, an extra jumper and some thick sock can also make the experience a far more enjoyable one.
The ODC has attracted many outside experts; the list below provides a short summary of the people outside of the school who have supported the work we do. Many of them give their time for free and have been fundamental in making the area a success. The ODC is a very special place to learn and highlights what can be achieved when we work together to make a vision reality. Thanks goes to the following people who have entered in to the spirit of our outdoor space and have gone the extra mile to help students benefit from the great outdoors.
Teaching in the ODC
Miss Taplin teaches Design subjects at Queen’s school and is enthusiastic about teaching outdoors. She is a fully qualified Forest School Leader, enabling her to facilitate sessions with a holistic approach and develop the Outdoor Classroom site. Since 2009, Miss Taplin has managed to secure the funding to make this project possible. Her vision for the outdoor classroom has enabled it to grow into the space it is today. Miss Taplin has taken on the design and management of the project, she has formed links with the Woodland Trust, Grown in Britain and skilled craftspeople & ecologists who have made this project possible. Alongside a committed team of teachers who share the ethos of the ODC, Miss Taplin has established the i:WOOD course, has lead enrichment week activities in the woodland, has developed a program for SEN students and is currently encouraging other teachers to embrace teaching outdoors – no matter the subject.
Please contact firstname.lastname@example.org if you have any skills that could benefit the Outdoor Classroom.
Adrian is an artisan builder and woodworker, fundamental in the development of the area. He worked, over a substantial period of time, with students and staff to build the shelter and has run sessions with students on the subject of Embodied Energy. Adrian is better known for his work on The TV show, Kevin McCloud’s Man Made Home, a four-part series for Channel 4.
A British award-winning designer-maker, passionate about environmental sustainability, worked with our Product Design students in the ODC demonstrating how he uses the woodland to manufacture products.
A therapeutic consultant, trainer, play therapist and supervisor who offers a range of services and strategies to support children, families and the staff who work with them to make positive changes in their lives. Cath has also written a book Understanding and Managing Children’s Behaviour and has helped us immensely when designing the i:WOOD sessions for Y11 PSE.
An artist, singer and teacher, who has supported us on a regular basis through her fresh approach and her holistic style of teaching.
An ecologist who identifies our wildlife and is at hand for advice on the management of the area.
Grown in Britain
It brings together everyone who values our forests, woods and trees and the products we can make from the wood they produce. It is an incredibly positive movement that brings together and harnesses the positive energy and feelings towards our woodlands and forests that many in our society share to create a strong wood culture; a wood culture that captures personal health and fitness, well-being, community and encourages the use of more wood and forest product.
Held a session with our Resistant Materials students, inspiring them by describing her journey into sustainable design.