Outdoor Learning at Gwinear
One of the defining characteristics of our school is our commitment to use the outdoors to enrich our curriculum. Having two minibuses, Geoffrey and Matilda, the school is able to take a whole class of children out at anytime and there isn't a week that goes by when someone isn't making use of them. At the beginning of term teachers in all classes use trips to access the huge range of learning opportunities that Cornwall has to launch topics; museums, historical sites and magical sites to inspire awe and wonder, kick start children on their learning journeys and further visits throughout the topic keep the fire burning. All classes also make regular visits to three specific sites that are close to us - see Outdoor School below.
As well as being fortunate enough to have Geoffrey and Matilda, we are blessed with fantastic grounds that have been developed over the last three years so that they act as an extension of the classroom. Our youngest children have free flow into a fantastic area complete with wild areas and pond, a tree house cross/nature hide, storytelling willow dome, mud kitchen, water play and sand play areas, poly tunnel and raised beds gardening area and last but not least the Golden Hut which serves as the epicentre for much of the outdoor learning in the school. Although it is Class 1 that has direct access to this area, it is used by all classes and indeed the majority of the resources were built by the children under the guidance of a learning mentor, including the tree house and Golden Hut! We are now embarking on our next wave of outdoor development with a huge range of enhancements being added to the wild border that we have grown around the edge of the main field. The border already has a path running through it with trim trail equipment periodically spaced around it but soon we will be adding a cloud viewing chamber, a fire pit, a construction area and much more. The PTFA and student council are also working together to extend the climbing area, which currently contains the popular traverse wall, so that it has a large free climbing structure and central tower. Keep coming back and check the photo diary below to see how we are getting on.
Outdoor Learning At Gwinear School
Outdoor Learning Archive
Alongside trips to a wide variety of locations in Cornwall every class makes regular visits to three special locations in our local area. The three sites are all within 15 minutes drive from school and so they are easy to access for a morning of outdoor learning before lunch. We call this Outdoor School and one class goes out every Thursday; the worst of the weather can stop us but with full sets of 'muddy puddles' waterproofs it needs to be bad! We hope that by continually revisiting these places, through all seasons, throughout their time at Gwinear, children will develop a sense of belonging and begin to connect with each unique environment.
Godrevy beach and its famous lighthouse provides an idyllic setting for Outdoor School. The rock architecture of the cliffs is a fantastic stimulus for artistic pursuits as well as a great scientific and geographical focus study. Meanwhile the seascape is second to none and whilst beautiful on a sunny day it is when the wind is blowing that it can be most inspiring for poetry, storytelling and music making.
Godrevy - A photo study by Maddy.
Maddy made the collection of photos above for a photography competition members of the school entered. The theme was: 'A Different Perspective' and we think her images really capture some of the aspects that make this place so unique - enjoy.
Just a stone throw from Godrevy (well a long stone throw) lies Gwithian Nature Reserve. Here a wide range of different types of habitat, from sand dunes to freshwater ponds, provide an excellent resource for nature studies. Our children have been actively involved in carrying out conservation work with the wardens of the reserve and this has inspired some fantastic factual writing. Another favourite use of the area in Outdoor School is for creating maths trails and every September our youngest children can always be found harvesting the blackberries for their homemade crumble.
Our third special place for Outdoor School is indeed special and provides a wonderful contrast to the other two locations. Again, only 15 minutes away but this time inland towards Helston lies the wonderful woodland of Crenver Grove. Owned by the Woodland Trust, it contains a wide variety of deciduous trees and is home to a huge amount of wildlife including a family of badgers. Studying this wildlife, and looking for even stranger creatures including one with a wart on the end of his nose, forms the focus of some of the learning that takes place but teachers have become adept at using the site to enhance learning in virtually every subject. From film making and drama to making prepositions in grammar a little more interesting, Crenver is always a hit with the children and being so sheltered it is a good choice for outdoor school on wet days.
Our School Grounds.
As stated above we benefit from fantastic grounds that we are constantly developing so that they provide the very best opportunities to enhance learning in the curriculum and so that children can best learn through play when they have free time at lunch and break times. We have developed a unique model of learning mentoring that is rooted in mindfulness principles but uses the outdoors as the principle medium to explore children's feelings and attitudes. Through this program all our children have been involved in the development of the grounds and the photo diaries below give a good snapshot of the impact that they have had.
Our Grounds - Recent Developments and ongoing
Over the last 4 years we have invested much time and resources into developing our school grounds so that they act as an extension of the classroom, allowing us to take learning outside as much as possible. Supported by a grant from the Gwinear Gwithian Sustainable Community Fund the school completed this journey in 2020. Every step of the way has involved all stake holders, particularly children who gave input during the design phase, helped build virtually all the elements under the guidance of the learning mentor and will now act as guardians to nurture what we have created for the generations to come. Have a look through the photos to see how we got to where we are today.
John Muir Award
Each year the school runs a John Muir Club with members working towards awards that recognise their involvement with discovery, exploring and conserving wild spaces. Over the last two years and for the future to come the club will help conserve four specific wild places. First of all our school grounds including the wild border and the wild corridor beside the school. Next to our school there is a completely wild corridor of land that has not been explored for many years. The members of John Muir Club are very carefully making a pathway into this unknown wild area so that we can find out what lives there. We want to look after it as a wild space and think of ourselves as lucky guests. Eventually it will become our very own mini nature reserve that visitors will be able to enter as long as they treat the inhabitants with complete respect. Alongside the school grounds the club is also involved in surveying and helping to conserve three locations we use for outdoor school: Gwithian Green Nature Reserve, Godrevy beach and Crenver Grove. Activities have included tree planting, litter clearing, promoting bio diversity through clearances and making others aware of the value of these areas by creating information boards. Throughout the time in the club the children also take part in immersive and reflective activities which help them develop a personal attachment and relationship with the wild spaces they are hoping to preserve. The photo journal below gives a snapshot of some of their work.