A partnership project with Ben Carpenter founder of Grassroot Communities CIC
I am working to develop a new project exploring outdoor learning and forest school activities and programmes for all ages in my local park. All schools that are within walking distance of Greville Smyth Park are being offered the opportunity to benefit from learning outdoors in a local community green space which will connect them to nature through hands-on learning experiences.
Sessions will be tailored to the learning and developmental needs of pupils and will enhance learning across a broad range of subject areas as well as supporting the personal development of children through building confidence, self esteem, communication and inter personal skills. Progressive programmes of activity will be on offer which will have the most impact through building on the experience of each session which will be cumulative in its effect on children’s levels of engagement with learning. This will also develop a long lasting positive relationship with a local green space and increased levels of confidence for children being out in their local community. In addition one off sessions will also be possible to support wider learning in school settings.
Types of Sessions on offer:
Outdoor Learning – using the outdoor environment to enhance and support learning on a broad range of subjects such as english, maths, science and more.
Forest School Sessions – regular sessions focused on personal development particularly suited to small groups needing additional support and nurturing.
School trips – one of sessions to enhance specific learning topics and explore the green spaces in and around the park.
This project is being set up because we want to see parks used as learning spaces and because we have a deep belief that children need to spend more time learning and developing outside.
We are planning to meet with local schools to explore this further. We will also be running a twilight information and activity session on Friday 5th May at 4 – 5.30pm for local schools that are interested.
A theme that emerged from our Learning Everywhere conference in July was the idea of encouraging schools and other learning groups to use our fantastic resource of local parks to support and develop learning experiences for children in Bristol.
The current way in which our parks are used by learning groups varies significantly from place to place in part determined by the history of use of learning providers and relationships between the space and groups.
What is clear, and was reinforced at our conference, is that teachers do not usually live in the area where they teach and often do not have local knowledge of what green spaces or parks are within walking distance of their school. A fantastic resource to emerge in the last year is Bristol Parkhive - a fantastic app that will highlight local parks and green spaces nearby and provide useful information on what facilities are there, what different spaces look like and if there is a local parks group that works with the council to look after and manage the space.
Following on from the conference a group is coming together to collaborate to explore how we can create a template in Bristol that will provide schools and other learning groups clarity on how they can use parks to support their learning.
The meeting on the 5th December will be exploring the following areas:
It is hoped that an interest group will emerge from this to continue to work with Bristol City Council, as the main landowner, and parks groups to explore how we support and continue to develop both a culture of learning in parks and spaces that support it. Key to this will be developing a successful working partnership between the council, the local community and schools and learning groups to develop, use and manage these spaces.
Jon Attwood has been leading outdoor activities in the wider Bristol area for over 20 years. He developed a passion for nature and a love of the outdoors as a child and was lucky to have a free range childhood with plenty of time exploring wild corners of rural Essex. Jon is a Forest School leader and trainer and is happiest in the woods sharing experiences with children and adults.