By Toby Porter
A scheme to boost children’s learning by having classes in the great outdoors is spreading its wings to take in the whole country.
The Lambeth scheme Natural Thinkers has already trained 300 teachers in 100 nurseries and primary schools – and will now expand to the whole country’s schools to pupils aged up to 11.
And it goes down to babies, too.
The project is designed to raise achievement and improve children’s well-being, confidence, communication and social skills by using nature and the outdoors.
It was developed by the Lambeth Early Action Partnership (LEAP) and Lambeth council.
It started as a programme for very young children in Lambeth, but it has proved so successful it is now being offered across the country.
The pandemic has encouraged awareness of the benefits of accessing nature and the enjoyment that comes with being outdoors.
Natural Thinkers provides staff with a framework to develop ways for children to learn outdoors, and bring all aspects of the curriculum outside with accessible activities.
Schools on the programme often report how children become calmer, more motivated to join in, gain confidence and are inspired to talk about what they are doing – while raising grades.
LEAP’s Director Laura McFarlane said: “Our Lambeth teams are at the forefront of this approach and we’re keen to empower other communities, families and providers to benefit from what we’ve learned.”
Sharron Richmond, pastoral and well-being officer at Holy Trinity CE Primary School in Upper Tulse Hill, attended the training and said: “Being outdoors has hugely restorative effects, especially post-lockdown.”
Lambeth education director Abrilli Phillip joined colleagues for one session and said: “I’m so proud of our Lambeth teams for pioneering this unique approach and constantly pushing for the very best for our children.
“They’ve shown what can be done by thinking and acting creatively and I’m really excited to start sharing their success more widely, to help more children grow and thrive.”
Main Picture: LEAP Natural Thinkers Abrilli Phillip and Theo, right.
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