Learning in the Outdoors

Learning outside the Classroom at Ribbon Academy is about raising achievement through an approach to education in which direct experience is central.

Rather than focusing solely on what we learn, it also places importance on how and where we learn. These memorable experiences enable us to put our learning into context by understanding how it transfers to life beyond the classroom, and also appreciating how the skills acquired can be brought back to the classroom to support other areas of the curriculum.

Learning in a variety of environments not only raises achievement, but also promotes independence, organisation, problem solving, communication and teamwork skills. We are giving children not only an education, but also the tools to become a well-rounded adult. In an age where global warming, environmental education and sustainability are becoming ever more critical, children must be able to learn from and understand their environment, as well as their responsibility to protect it.

Ribbon also acknowledges and supports the fact that time spent in the outdoors and specifically playing in the outdoors, is a major factor in improving children’s well-being and mental health. Better play means happier children. Happier children mean a more positive attitude to school, more effective lessons, and core skills development.

Provision

Our innovative team are constantly striving to adapt and improve our school grounds. On each of the playgrounds we have two large loose parts sheds, a performance and role play area and wheeled carts. One of our artificial turfed areas houses an outdoor gym, while another provides a quiet space complete with games. Our MUGA and two large fields allow for team games, with climbing equipment around both. Ribbon Early Years have a vast outdoor space equipped with a wide range of apparatus and provocations, and we are fortunate to have three additional outdoor classrooms that are accessible across the site. Forest Schools sessions take place in our wildlife garden, and the polytunnel houses a variety of fruit and vegetables. Other exciting projects are continually happening as we respond to the interests of the children.

Our curriculum:

The Early Years Curriculum makes great use of learning in the outdoors as a vehicle for learning. Much time is spent outdoors during “play to learn” time, during which the children have free flow access to a large outdoor space. They are given the opportunity to experience different seasons and weather conditions. All areas of the curriculum are taught to some extent in the outdoor classroom, and the children are encouraged to develop a sense of wonder and excitement about being outside. There are many opportunities to explore both the immediate locality, and further afield in the local area. During “Muddy Monday” and “Forest Friday” sessions in Reception and nursery respectively, the children are given time in the school’s wildlife garden, accessing forest schools activities and philosophies. Year 1 continue to have access to both the Early Years garden and Year 1 outdoor spaces during continuous provision. They also enjoy “Teamwork Tuesday” afternoons, where the classes take part in forest schools, sustainability and conservation lessons, largely based outside. In Years 2-6, outdoor lessons link specifically to the curriculum. However, much emphasis is also placed on personal growth by providing exciting experiences which promote teamwork, leadership, independence, communication and organisation.

OPAL

At Ribbon we believe that play is essential for physical, emotional, social, spiritual and intellectual development. In a time where outdoor play environments and opportunities are on the decline, the school grounds provide a crucial place for children to experience self-initiated play. Ribbon is an OPAL school (Outdoor Play And Learning) and provides exciting play opportunities in accordance with The Charter for Children’s Play produced by Play England. These opportunities include loose parts, problem solving, gross and fine motor skill development, team games, risk taking, role play and performing.

Passports for Life

Giving young people the opportunity to try new things and develop new skills can be hugely beneficial. It can help children to grow in confidence, expand their understanding of the world around them, or introduce a hobby or passion that could last for years to come. This is why Ribbon have launched “Passports for Life” for our children in Reception to Year 6. Each child will be offered a menu of 15 exciting things they can complete each term, either at home or at school. These activities range from curriculum driven experiences, to fun life lessons.

Residential Experiences, Trips and Visits

All year groups take part in a minimum of two off site educational visits per term, all closely linked to curriculum topics and skills. This helps bring an element of “wow” to our curriculum, by giving children the opportunity to learn from experts in their field, learn in context, and see a rich array of places and meet a wider variety of people. In Reception, children are encouraged to develop a sense of independence through extended school days and visits. A sleepover in the school hall takes place in Year 1, and an overnight stay in tents on the school field at the end of Year 2, which forms an important foundation for all future residential experiences throughout Key Stage 2. Residentials in Key Stage 2 take place further afield, and over a longer period, and with an increasingly demanding itinerary.

‘Ribbon monitor the progress and well-being of pupils who have special educational needs and/or disabilities carefully. Expectations for these pupils are high. As a result, they make generally good progress from their starting points.’

OFSTED COMMENTS

‘Communication systems between classroom and
additional support staff are good and mean that these pupils have access to the
full range of the curriculum suited to their needs.’

OFSTED COMMENTS

‘There is clear evidence that you and your staff’s ongoing work to improve the depth of pupils’ mathematical understanding across the school is working.’

OFSTED COMMENTS

‘Parents are
confident that their children are happy, safe and well taught.’

OFSTED COMMENTS

‘Children get off to a flying start at school. They are happy and safe and increasingly independent, and
yet aware of others.’

OFSTED COMMENTS

‘School have done a fantastic job in all areas.’

PARENT COMMENTS

‘Early Years leaders and staff are expert in using their knowledge of what children can and cannot yet do to sharpen their planning and focus their teaching.’

OFSTED COMMENTS

‘Disadvantaged and most-able children are making particularly good
progress.’

OFSTED COMMENTS

‘The quality of teaching across all subjects continues to improve.’

OFSTED COMMENTS

‘Staff and the governing body take safeguarding responsibilities very seriously. There is a culture of safeguarding at the school.’

OFSTED COMMENTS

‘School are there when needed whether it’s for support or a chat. They are constantly checking how kids are getting on.’

PARENT COMMENTS

‘The teaching of phonics is a strength.’

OFSTED COMMENTS

‘Children settle well when they enter Ribbon Early Years, communication between home and school is good.’

OFSTED COMMENTS

‘Pupils are taking more responsibility for their own learning as they move through Key Stage 1.’

OFSTED COMMENTS

‘My son loves the interaction with his teachers. Thank you all so very much for your hard work and dedication.’

PARENT COMMENTS

‘We are so grateful to all the effort the teachers are putting in.’

PARENT COMMENTS

‘Ribbon are doing a fantastic job.’

PARENT COMMENTS

‘The governing body knows the school and the local community very well.’

OFSTED COMMENTS

‘School and staff should be commended for their quick shift and quality of what’s being communicated with the children.’

PARENT COMMENTS

‘All support and communication is brilliant’

PARENT COMMENTS

‘The learning environment, both inside and out, is stimulating and attractive. Staff are skilled in ensuring that children develop their independence as learners who enjoy exploring the world.’

OFSTED COMMENTS