Outdoor Learning and Play
Back in 2018 the Droxford Junior School approached the Landscape Strategy Team at Hampshire County Council to help them develop a long term plan to encourage and embed use of the grounds more into every day learning and play throughout the school. Through a facilitated workshop approach with Catherine Eldred, HCC Landscape Architect that included all 180 children within the school, all teaching and support staff, governors, parents, FODS and the Headteacher, a plan was created that would guide projects over the forthcoming years. This holistic vision of the whole site enabled all to play a part in it, and for it to become a strong feature within the School Improvement Plan.
Since completing the Plan in 2019 the school have gone on to fundraise for projects now in place.
In March 2020 (just before the first COVID lockdown) we raised £2035 using Aviva Community support to kick start the Landscape project for learning and play.
The ethos that the whole site should be used throughout the whole year, and in all weathers is now in action and completion of an area for creative Den Building and the Natural Play Area has meant pupils can now enjoy a wider variety of play at break and lunchtimes. A corridor of native planting to increase the biodiversity of the grounds is already being developed with additional guidance and support from the Hampshire and Isle of Wight Wildlife Trust (HIOWWT) and Learning Through Landscapes conservation charity while subsequent projects are currently being worked towards to enable the pupils to experience the joy of outdoor learning both within the school site and beyond as much as possible.
Subsequently, we have held successful Dig Days which have enabled the school, through a huge amount of parent power, to establish much of the outdoor planting and wildlife areas. Details of which can be found in the newsletters (see below).
We were also successful in gaining a sizeable grant from the SDNP CIL fund to pay for all the native plants,flowers, trees and shrubs; natural play area and the bespoke gazebo which will be used for outdoor teaching and learning.
The next phase of the project, which was completed in the summer of 2022 was to construct a permanent, bespoke, wooden gazebo to enable children to sit and learn under in all weathers. This was named Cedar Base and now has wooden seats outside with a firepit. We wish to develop a manifesto for outdoor learning, further enhancing the Droxford Curriculum, whereby more timetabled (and spontaneous) learning takes place outdoors.
The South Downs National Park and our partner Ambassador School (Bury Primary, West Sussex) alongside Debbie Lambert (Plymouth University / Taking Maths outdoors) and Claire Westlake from the Local Authority helped to lead an extremely well attended and successful Outdoor Education Collaboration workshop (September 2022). Schools from all over the south of England and Guernsey attended and enjoyed a day of celebration and learning.
We have now completed our first Landscape Strategy Plan and are about to embark on version 2 this summer (2023) with full cooperation and support of whole school community.