An outdoor curriculum for all
We are extremely lucky at St John’s to have a green and wooded area on our site. We opened a permanent outdoor learning space for our children in January 2020. The Forest School and allotment area were brought together to create a unique flexible outdoor space for all of our children to enjoy the benefits of learning outdoors.
St John’s believes learning outdoors can foster resilient, confident, independent and creative learners that go on to use their new skills in the world. In addition, the mental health and wellbeing of our students is a priority and there is a lot of evidence to support being outdoors in green spaces greatly improves mental health and wellbeing.
Children from all classes use the area as part of their classroom learning. In addition, those children with additional need access the area on a regular basis. There will also be new lunchtime clubs who will utilise the spaces.
There is a brand new covered outdoor classroom, a greenhouse and a fence and hedgerow to support wildlife and separate the area from the sports field. The growing area features raised beds for the growing of food and plants by all the classes. There is a small reflection and sensory garden as well as the current Forest School provision. We have added solar and wind power, and the addition of a rear locked gate into and out of the area allows the exploration of the Hogsmill River to be brought more easily into the curriculum.
Forest School Leader
Stephen Simpson has worked for over twenty years with 3-18 year olds in creative indoor and outdoor environments in both state and independent schools. He undertook the Level Three Forest School Leaders course in 2017. He is a passionate believer in using alternative learning methods with children who need help coping with the pressures of the modern classroom. This has led him to outdoor learning and the forest school ethos.
Sam Taylor - Colls PhD
Sam Taylor-Colls PhD is a Research Psychologist in Children and Families who has been working with vulnerable children and families for the last fifteen years. She has successfully written and completed her PhD looking at the relationship between a child’s social environment and their emotional development. Before joining St John’s Sam worked collaboratively with health care professionals, local authorities and educational establishments to nurture and protect children’s emotional well-being.
Ann is a teacher at St John’s school and is passionate about young people having the best opportunities in life. She studied in Early Years to support children in having the best start in the school environment. Ann specialises in Special Educational Needs and Disabilities. In 2007 she went to Sweden to study Forest schools in their education system and was stimulated by that experience to create Forest school in an English setting. Ann is a trustee of Creative Youth, organisers of the International Youth Arts Festival.