Barfield School has shown itself to have a strong commitment to providing frequent, continuous and progressive learning outside the classroom to all of its pupils by achieving a national Learning Outside the Classroom Mark (Silver).
Awarded by the Council for Learning Outside the Classroom, LOtC Mark (Silver) accredits those schools that have policies in place to ensure that high quality LOtC is available to all pupils across all areas of the curriculum to benefit their learning and personal development.
Barfield’s headmaster Robin Davies said: “We are delighted to receive the LOtC Mark in recognition of all the adventures that we provide our children in the outdoors. We have always understood the value of outdoor learning and the benefits that well planned and delivered lessons and activities give to the children from two to 13-year-olds, and the framework of the LOtC Mark allowed us to rationalise our ambitions even further.”
LOtC Mark is awarded by the Council for Learning Outside the Classroom, the national voice for Learning Outside the Classroom. The Council also provides free online information for teachers on how to plan and organise high quality LOtC activities. LOtC Mark is intended not only to recognise existing exemplary provision, but also to assist and support schools in developing their LOtC offer to enable all children to have access to meaningful LOtC experiences.
Schools and other educational organisations looking to gain LOtC Mark (Silver) will need to meet a set of five quality indicators and will be supported through a developmental process by a package of support materials, which include guidance, good practice exemplars, downloadable templates and training materials.
Beth Gardner, chief executive of the Council for Learning Outside the Classroom, said: “Learning outside the classroom provides the most memorable experiences in a child’s school life. LOtC Mark (Silver) demonstrates that the school is committed to delivering genuinely valuable learning outside the classroom experiences to all of their children and young people, and to continuing to develop that provision.
“Learning outside the classroom has many proven educational benefits. The LOtC Mark (Silver) award will support schools in building on their LOtC provision, thereby ensuring that many more young people have memorable, exciting and valuable learning outside the classroom experiences. I congratulate Barfield School on being awarded LOtC Mark (Silver).”
Learning Outside the Classroom at Barfield School:
a case study by headmaster Robin Davies
“Our Year 3 Humanities teacher was recently trying to convey what it was like living in the Stone Age. She used a video clip on the interactive whiteboard and used a text book and worksheets, but was still not satisfied that the children were fully appreciative of the conditions that the hunters and gatherers of the day would have lived in. What did she do? She took them on a Mammoth Hunt in the woods. To say the children were animated as a result of their stalking through the trees armed only with sticks and stones is an understatement, and that is without actually being successful in their quest for mammoth meat.
“Barfield School has had a strong reputation for delivering and ‘outdoorsy’ education for many years, benefiting from having our own home-grown adventure facility called 3Peaks that offers high-ropes, low-ropes, quad bikes, initiative challenges and archery, and to maximise our use of the grounds to support the teaching and learning in all the different subjects has been one of our main educational development
“The Barfield curriculum is littered with innovative examples of using the school grounds to enhance the children’s learning. Year 2 have been constructing graphs on the lawn using sticks for axes to measure numbers of natural items found; Year 4 have been out pacing the proportional distances of the Solar System based on a 5cm diameter Sun; Year 6 have returned from the neighbouring woods to do creative writing on ‘the lovely, deep and dark woods’.
“As well as the children’s strong academic results to support this approach, there is also compelling evidence that the children are healthy in both body and mind because of the active, kinaesthetic nature of the learning, and the setting of the learning – our natural outdoors.
“There will always be the tried and tested systems of classroom learning, the time-honoured times-tables and spellings that instil a sense of discipline and determination and establish a solid knowledge base, and we consistently produce excellent core academic results. However, the children’s broader learning of what lies beyond just their ‘ABCs’ and ‘123s’ is magnified by a cleverly woven ‘Curriculum Map’ that plots threads of experiential outdoor learning activities to complement the classroom-taught subjects.
“Communication, creative and critical thinking skills and personal development and are nurtured to great effect with our ‘Extra-Layer’ programmes, including Forest Schools, A.C.E. (‘Awareness, Commitment and Empowerment’) and ‘T.O.T.’ (Thinking Outside The…’). We believe that the full range of learning opportunities from this multi-dimensional approach creates a broader minded young person, stimulated in their learning about all aspects of life and living.
“The ‘weave’ of the Curriculum Map also allows for planning of the different aspects of Sustainable Action and Social Responsibility. Indeed, it remains our ongoing mission to produce the matrix of learning opportunities to educate THE most sustainably-minded and socially responsible children for the future.”