School grounds offer a wealth of learning opportunities and outdoor classrooms are increasing in popularity. Many schools across the UK are beginning to look beyond the traditional classroom and incorporate outdoor learning within the curriculum.
An outdoor classroom is an external shelter within the school grounds, which creates an extended covered practical area for outdoor learning and play. They can be designed to complement existing buildings and surroundings.
Six key benefits
1. They extend existing learning space
Outdoor classrooms are an ideal solution for schools that need to expand their current classroom space and maximise the use of their school grounds. As class sizes increase, with some schools becoming pushed to accommodate rising pupil numbers, outdoor classrooms provide the extra space needed without having to extend the school and cause a significant amount of disruption.
2. They provide an opportunity for hands-on learning
A dedicated outdoor classroom provides an area for hands-on lessons. This could include messy art projects, science experiments or loud musical lessons that can’t be conducted indoors.
3. They provide protection from the elements
An outdoor classroom provides a sheltered spot in the windy or wet weather, and a shaded area in the hot and sunny weather, meaning that lessons can take place outside all year round.
4. They are a great meeting point
Outdoor classrooms create a gathering place for children when learning outdoors. Pupils can explore the school grounds, and then meet at the outdoor classroom to share any findings.
5. They have numerous uses
Outdoor classrooms can be used for more than lessons. They can also be used for outdoor dining and to encourage social engagement at play times. This is vital for forming relationships and developing communication skills.
6. They are permanent and give structure to lessons outdoors
An outdoor classroom provides a permanent space meaning that outdoor lessons can be fulfilled on a regular basis without leaving the school grounds and can be integrated into the school curriculum. This also helps give long term structure to lessons and allows teachers to plan their outdoor time in advance.
Why is outdoor learning important?
Studies have shown that pupils tend to have increased concentration and are more motivated, inspired and willing to learn when they are outdoors.
The opportunity to learn and play outdoors can also potentially give children who find it difficult to concentrate or engage inside an alternative option. Installing an outdoor classroom area is something that all schools should seriously consider, given all the notable benefits that it could bring to the education of their students. You can find out more about outdoor classrooms and outdoor dining rooms for schools here.