Outdoor Classroom Stories: St John’s Catholic Primary School, London

17th October 2018

In the third of our Outdoor Classroom Stories, we’re in London with St John’s Catholic Primary School.

St John’s Catholic School has a rich and diverse population with children from 47 different nationalities. With English not being the first language for nearly a third of pupils, one of their biggest priorities is developing writing skills. They see outdoor learning as pivotal in this; that’s why they’re huge believers in Outdoor Classroom Day.

“Opening up the world through learning outdoors.”

Exercise books are swapped for scrapbooks at St John’s Catholic School, the one form entry primary school based in Rotherhithe, London.

Why? The school enriches its formal curriculum through not only taking the children on regular outdoor trips, but also carrying out its lessons on the five-acre Stave Hill Ecological Park (where their back gate opens onto).

They tack photos of their adventures, leaflets from trips and even items they find along the way in the scrapbooks. The enthusiasm for getting outdoors has been key in sparking a desire to learn and, particularly, to engage more with writing so that children can share thoughts about their experiences.

Why the focus on outdoors?

Vera Jajechnyk, Head of School, has seen this approach have a definite impact: in every class the expectation for writing has increased substantially over the last year.

For Year 4 going into Year 5, there has been a 39% increase of children at age related expectation for writing. In addition, during outdoor trips pupils experience teamwork, learn how to use public transport and spend money.

Likewise, they also meet new people and try new activities such as sailing and film making. This helps to develop resilience, confidence and a genuine love of education and learning.

“We need to expose children to opportunities so that they have something to say. If they have been on a trip, they are excited and full of enthusiasm. The ideas are there in their head.” Vera said. 

“Going outdoors makes school fun and enjoyable. Learning is real, it makes sense. As a result, our children have had such rich and varied experiences by the time they leave us. 

““If you give children a purposeful opportunity and make the experience real, it will lead to improvement… we are opening up the world through learning outdoors.”

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Thanks for joining the movement we can’t wait to see what you get up to on the day! Please share this with your colleagues and friends to help us make it possible for every child to get outdoors to learn and play every day 🙂 Check out the resources tabs for ideas for the day – and to make learning and play part of every day!

Thank you for supporting Outdoor Classroom Day!

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