Why learn in local greenspace?
Kirkshaws Primary School serves Old Monkland and Kirkshaws in North Lanarkshire. The School Improvement Plan, under its Health and Wellbeing outcome, sought greater use of outdoor areas within the school grounds and in the wider community. The Learning in Local Greenspace project enabled outdoor learning and the development of responsibility, confidence, independence, resilience and collaboration. The project was co-designed between Matt Searles at Jupiter Artland and P4 class teacher Kirsty Wyatt to meet these priorities and support the class to develop a sense of ownership from their experience of nurturing a local outdoor greenspace.
Finding and accessing your local greenspace
Nearby Doune Park was identified, using local knowledge, as a suitable local greenspace for outdoor learning. It is a council run park approximately 600m, or a 10 minute walk, from the school with paths, open grass and isolated areas of established trees. To ensure the correct adult-pupil ratio, Kirsty negotiated with other class teachers to borrow their classroom assistants for the visits.
Using your local greenspace
The class had already undertaken projects in school about protecting wildlife and wanted to share their passion for environmental protection in their local greenspace. They explored the interrelationships between people and nature and how our individual actions can impact on the environment.
At Doune Park they created tree creatures, real or make believe, that could survive amongst the trees. The pupils tried to find the best place for their creatures to survive and shared with the rest of the class how their particular creature could thrive in that chosen place. The project wove creative outdoor activities with writing skills, word construction and poetry, to form the children’s responses to and develop ownership of their greenspace.
Kirsty witnessed increases in the pupils’ enthusiasm and resilience.
“The class loved being in the local park and it was fantastic to see the excitement they had when sharing their experiences. At school, they are used to being told to stay inside when it is raining but this project really tested their resilience and they enjoyed braving the elements.”
Reflecting afterwards, Matt and Kirsty recognised the value of investing time on planning and creating an experience of relevance to the pupils and their community. In addition, building in Professional Learning at the start would not only support project delivery but build confidence in school staff.
Improving your local greenspace
The pupils made placards that demonstrated an environmental statement that would alleviate environmental stress within Doune Park. They then found a space for their demonstration and recorded it through photography.
Spreading and embedding learning in local greenspace
Pupils each made an individual environmental pledge to their greenspace, wrote them out and found a place to hang it. This shared their pledges with the wider community and encouraged others to value the greenspace too. These activities enabled the class to use creative processes in their greenspace to inspire positive change.
Kirsty now feels more able to offer creative activities outdoors, saying
“The Learning in Local Greenspace project has increased my confidence to undertake a creative project in to the outdoors and has consolidated processes and procedures to enable outdoor learning to be an ongoing part of the students’ learning.”
Matt has also seen the benefits to Kirsty and her pupils.
“Being part of the Learning in Local Greenspace project has enabled Kirsty to recognise cross curricular possibility that binds indoor, classroom teaching with creative outdoor learning. There is also an increased awareness of the benefits that outdoor learning brings to the learning process, with increased engagement, contextualisation and resilience.”
Photographs: Jupiter Artland and Kirsty Wyatt, Kirkshaws Primary School.