Sustainability and Outdoor Learning in Devon (SOLID!) conference

The name might not survive for long but the conference at Buckfast on Friday was thoroughly enjoyable. It was a great chance to meet teachers interested in developing outdoor learning in their schools.

As there was a literacy theme I ran a ‘Playground Literacy’ workshop which, starting from children’s motivation to play gave different ideas to play with words and sentences. These were often nonsense (which children love) or almost poetic! (there is a fine line.)

The highlight was the session on ‘The Lost Words’ when the artist talked to us and we worked in groups as she created beautiful pictures in front of us.

Already looking forward to next year.

Walk and talk

Courtesy of the South West Coast Path Association I am able to offer an extra session to the ‘Explorer Group’ (just eight children with their ‘Learning Mentor’) from Victoria Road Primary School. Last term the school funded four sessions for this carefully selected group to enjoy and learn from ‘Adventure Walks’ on Dartmoor. Our March day will be along the Coast path near Plymouth and I know that they are looking forward to it and I am looking forward to meeting up with them again.

Learning Outside the Classroom National Conference: Positive feedback to workshop

I thoroughly enjoyed the Annual (National) Learning Outside the Classroom conference at the Black Country Living Museum (Dudley).

The early feedback from my ‘Inspiring Play in Wild Areas’ workshop has been very positive. I would love to have had time for more discussion questions etc. but time was restricted. If anyone is interested in the fuller version (c 90 mins) then please get in touch. Here is a pdf version of the power point from my presentation. Inspiring play in wild areas summary


Also attended a couple of really useful workshops. The first on the risk/benefit approach to risk management which chimed well with my own approach. The second a very  enjoyable, session on ‘Music in the Outdoors’

A very well organised conference with a wide variety of keynote speakers.

Bideford College

I have thoroughly enjoyed a series of 5 walks for groups of year 7 children from Bideford College. They were staying at the Dartmoor Training Centre. On most of the days the weather has been ideal for walking and the dry summer has meant that under foot it has been a little easier than last year. The students have been really responsive and ready to learn about Dartmoor, its wildlife and history whilst testing themselves over  a much longer distance than they are used to (including a Tyrolean river crossing!) The staff have also been very supportive and given positive feedback. I am now looking forward to a similar experience over the next few weeks with year 7 students from Launceston.

An Adventure Walk with a Foundation Year 1 class

Well that was fun!!

Twenty seven children some as young as four had a great time exploring the woods around Cockington. We walked along narrow paths in the ‘jungle’ through ferns as tall as the children. We crossed the stream. back over the bridge then under the bridge – everyone wearing wellies as advised. Noticing the flowers and plants as we walked we had our snack buy the stream before playing for a while sliding down the earth banks, paddling and exploring. Soon we were heading up the ‘steep hill’ and on into the grounds of Cockington where the teachers and helpers lost the children for a while when they all disappeared under the branches of a large fir tree! Lunch ended with children rolling down the hills, low level tree climbing and swinging on the springy branches of a giant conifer. On the way back more climbing and a bit more paddling for some very tired but happy children.

The staff and parent helpers really enjoyed their day and it was a pleasure to watch the children become more adventurous over the course of the day. Loads of smiles and only a few bumps and the odd close encounter with stinging nettles. Brilliant day – well done to everyone.

Inspiring Maths Outside the Classroom

Feedback from the latest incarnation of this course and thanks to Sir Robert Geffery’s Primary School, Landrake for hosting it. Always on the look out for schools willing to host a course or who would like INSET form their staff.

  • I really enjoyed today’s course and found it really relevant to daily teaching. I leave with loads of ideas for daily practise and look forward to implementing this with my class: Naomi – Landulph Primary
  • I really enjoyed this session. It gave me lots of ideas that can be realistically achieved: Jessica – Ugborough Primary School, Devon
  • Enjoyed seeing how a range of resources can be used; also how simple activities can be used to develop reasoning through questioning: Sarah – Ermington Primary
  • A good and effective way of covering a large area in a short amount of time. Lots of different ideas generated showing clearly how they can be integrated into every day school life: Jamie – Sir Robert Geffery’s Primary School

Course feedback

Feedback from my ‘Inspiring Maths Outside the Classroom’ course, kindly hosted by Victoria Rd Primary School – Plymouth

  • Great ideas for all year groups and very easy to implement in school. Good pace, very relevant to making Maths more interesting. ( Chantal KS1/F Maths lead and Peter KS2 Maths lead Elburton PS  )
  • Lots of useful ideas to show staff how simple it is to create learning opportunities outside. (Joe Y1 teacher Victoria Rd PS)
  • Really enjoyed the session with the use of real ‘hands on’ resources. (Tim, Y5 teacher and Maths lead Ernesettle PS)
  • The pace was good and we had an opportunity to talk about ideas as well as time to think. (Anna Y5 teacher and Maths Lead St Matthews PS)

Half day ‘consultancy’ session at Marine Academy, Plymouth

  • A good balanced morning filled with discussions, practical opportunities and tutor lead activities ( Michelle Y3 teacher Marine Academy)
  • Very informative with lots of practical activities that can be used across the whole school. (Georgina Y6 teacher and Maths lead)

Inspiring Maths Outside the Classroom

My thanks to Kevin Duggan, Head teacher of Victoria Road Primary School, Plymouth for agreeing to host this course on Thursday 22nd March. In anticipation of considerable demand we are offering both a morning and an afternoon session.

This course is for curriculum leaders, and teachers keen to use outdoor teaching and learning to improve attainment in maths, for their class and across the school.

It will give them activities to use with their own class; and ideas to help them lead the improvement of the outdoor learning experience for children across the school.

For further details please email