Every year, schools across the UK celebrate National School Grounds Week, led by Learning through Landscapes (LtL) a charity that aims to improve outdoor spaces in schools and
childcare settings. This year (from June 8 – 12), the theme is Pollination, linked to a UK-wide biodiversity project aimed at protecting our dwindling bee population.
At the Garden Company, we have been lucky to have the opportunity to work with several Hertfordshire schools in recent years, designing and building schemes that have transformed their existing grounds into more attractive and stimulating places. It is incredibly rewarding to involve the pupils in these projects and subsequently see them learning and playing outdoors safely and happily.
We are sometimes asked to spell out the benefits of dedicating some of a school’s (inevitably) limited resources to creating better school grounds – here is my view:
- Involving children in learning and having fun outdoors encourages them to spend more time outdoors, to be inspired by – and care about – the natural world. This is increasingly important with the distractions of TV and social media that face our children today at all ages, and survey after survey shows that many children lack even basic horticultural
knowledge. If there is no natural inclination to engage with nature in their home environment it is likely that without stimulus provided by their school, they will go into adult life with no connection to the natural environment
- Helping teachers to make the most of the learning and play opportunities available outdoors enables them to deliver the school curriculum in a way that is highly stimulating and enjoyable for their pupils. Children learn and remember more when they are enjoying themselves (don’t we all!).
- Many of our schools have unique outdoor settings. Rather than taking these outdoor spaces for granted, they can be more clearly connected to a school’s overall purpose and identity and children given the opportunity to have wonderful learning and play experiences that in some cases will stimulate a lifelong interest in nature.
If you are a parent/carer, member of staff or a school governor, why not explore the options for your school to enhance its outdoor learning and play experiences for children and young people? The benefits can be far-reaching (and often funding can be accessed). Of course, if you are in London or the South-East and would like to involve us in your thinking, we would be delighted to have a chat and share our insights in this area. Just call the office on 01442 832666 or email me at firstname.lastname@example.org