Schools Gone Wild in Lockdown

Children outdoor learning © Ross Hoddinott/2020VISION

Outdoor learning for schools across the two counties had to change a bit during lockdown, but it hasn’t stopped them and their students from doing some amazing things. Read on for more on what schools have been up to in lockdown.

Classrooms and teaching for schools across the two counties had to change a bit during lockdown, but it hasn’t stopped them from doing some amazing things. Many schools adapted to do more outdoor learning and encouraged their students to connect from nature at home. 

Outdoor learning from home

The children of St Alban’s School in Havant have a great outdoor learning programme, but when lockdown happened, they had to find ways to translate this to their homes. Children have been building bug hotels, exploring the sounds in nature, growing sunflowers, and watching baby birds fledge. With one parent saying

“Nature during lockdown has been amazing! We’ve been able to watch the baby birds learn to fly and seen lots of different butterflies. We’ve been able to slow down and see the changes around us in more detail than ever before”

And the learning has continued for those children who have been at school too. Outdoor education lead Julie tells us how they adapted.

"Gardening is a big part of our school and lockdown arrived just as the growing season was beginning. We knew that we could not maintain everything without the support of the school community so we decided to focus on some key areas, close to the classrooms. Watering, weeding, sowing and harvesting became a daily activity and this guaranteed close up encounters with wildlife. Having few indoor resources and needing to avoid transmission led to a wealth of imaginative activities using the grounds. There was also much ‘hidden’ learning and the time to engage with nature to foster our own wellbeing. Lunch was often eaten outside, surrounded by birdsong and dancing bees and butterflies. Just before wider opening we asked our students to reflect on what they valued the most. They were all in agreement that it was being outside in the grounds ‐ having the time to talk, escaping from the worries of life and being at one with nature."

Taking lessons outside

Lessons for a school in Portsmouth have gone outside too. Inspired by an activity demonstrated at a Wilder Schools online meet up Mathilde took her class out in to the garden for some maths lessons and used natural elements to learn about fractions. Mathilde also lead the group through 30 Days Wild, the Wildlife Trusts national campaign to do one random of act of wildness every day. Mathilde says:

“This has been a strange time at school, being in our bubbles, but it really allowed us to have more time outside and test wild activities with fewer children, which is really special and enjoyable.”

A perfect partnership

Milford Conservation volunteers (MCV) and Milford Primary School have been working in partnership with each other since 2019. In early 2020 MCV awarded the school a £500 sponsorship fund to help wildlife develop at their site and a new housing project nearby. The school have worked together to decide what they’d like to spend the funding on. A list that includes bird, bat and dormouse boxes, hedgehog homes, and swift boxes. Further funds have been put aside for planting native hedgerow species to bulk up thinning hedgerows at ‘The Swifts’ development along with some mature Hazel trees also for planting at the school this autumn/winter. The school and volunteers are really looking forward to working together again.

Supporting schools

Forest School training at Blashford Lakes nature reserve

© Lianne de Mello

We’ve also had contact with schools right at the start of their outdoor learning journey. Our Wilder Schools meet up (a get together online for educators to discuss outdoor learning including activity ideas, health and safety aspects and how to manage a group outdoors) gave educators a chance to ask questions and get ideas. Now it’s safe to do so we’ve also been visiting schools, advising them on their grounds and how to improve them for outdoor learning and wildlife. We’re excited to see a surge in interest in outdoor learning and are looking forward to continuing supporting these schools on their journey.

Keep an eye on our events page for more Wilder Schools meet ups and check out our schools and groups pages for information on how we can help you adapt your school grounds, and how your pupils can get involved.

Tell us what you’ve been up to

We’d really love to hear from you and your school about your outdoor learning during lockdown and any plans you have to keep going. Whether you’re just starting your outdoor learning journey, or you need a little extra guidance along the way, we can help. Get in touch with us to find out more about our training and advice services.

Find out more about Wilder Schools

Blog: Wilder children for a #WilderFuture 

Blog: Woodland Walk project from a primary school near Winchester

Blog: Pollinator Promise campaign from primary school students in Hayling.

Click here for more information on getting your school involved.

Wilder Future team walking into sunset

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