In recent years we have seen an increased focus on wellbeing, with access to nature being a top priority for many community funding projects. This philosophy is gradually seeping into workplaces with companies supporting initiatives such as ‘walking meetings’ and taking every reasonable measure to ensure employees are given opportunities to engage with their natural environment.
At Undershaw this is not news to us. We have seen evidence for many years that students are happier with an increased readiness to learn when they spend structured time outdoors.
”I have the best job at Undershaw! The outdoor learning area is an oasis and I am privileged to watch the students relax, learn to take calculated risks, form and solidify friendships, enjoy group dynamics, and feel the satisfaction and renewed sense of self-confidence that comes from building something from natural materials or merely being with each other around the fire. There are so many benefits to being outdoors and here everyone can indulge in being relaxed and free to explore nature.Tim FranklinOutdoor Learning Lead, Undershaw
Our Outdoor Learning area is nestled into a quiet corner of our idyllic campus and NOAH (Nature, the Outdoors, Animals and Health) is a faculty in its own right. NOAH lessons are often a highlight of the weekly timetable and Tim, our dedicated Outdoor Learning leader, is a key member of the staff team.
Our students engage with outdoor learning in a number of different ways:
- NOAH lessons
- Discovery Day (John Muir Award)
- Enrichment opportunities
- Cross-curricular experiences
”The NOAH faculty offers a unique perspective on embedding Nature, Outdoors, Animals and Health into an education setting. The Outdoors provides a different sensory environment for our students. This can be beneficial to their wellbeing, sensory diet, and regulatory strategies.Emma WestHeadteacher, Undershaw
Our Outdoor Learning shelter was our major fundraising project of 2022 and came to fruition over the summer break when the structure arrived at Undershaw. We are extremely grateful to the COINS Foundation and the donations that were made in memory of Pat Sullivan, along with a number of notable donors, namely MX Publishing, whose authors provide the school with a percentage of royalties from their Sherlock Holmes Anthologies. Together these donations meant we could design an outdoor classroom that would allow for seating, canvas window covers and a chimney, allowing for the all-weather solution we desperately needed.
From the scent of the firewood and the camaraderie with friends, to the seclusion and the sense of accomplishment involved in lighting fires, making hot chocolate or simply conversing with peers in the hammock, Undershaw’s success exists alongside nature.
Time and space to absorb our natural world is such a rarity in our busy lives but something to which we should all surrender… by design and with increasing fervour.