Learning Outside the Classroom
Learning Outside the Classroom (LOtC) is at Pinewood’s heart. Equal importance is given to the explicit requirements of a classroom driven curriculum and the implicit benefits of a curriculum far beyond that.
Pinewood pupils become positive, responsible people, working and cooperating with others, having developed knowledge and skills through learning that extends well beyond a traditional classroom. These are not ‘one-off’ opportunities. Pupils are regularly away from their desks. This commitment to LOtC has been recognised by the national Council for Learning Outside the Classroom, who granted Pinewood a regional winner’s award for their outstanding provision in this area.
“Pupils enjoy an exceptional range of opportunities for out of school visits and to welcome visitors to their school. They are fully aware of the relevance of these experiences to their classroom learning. The curriculum is enhanced by the provision of an extensive range of opportunities for outdoor education, very well supported by the excellent quality and breadth of extra-curricular activities.”
(ISI Inspection Report 2012)
Learning Outside the Classroom is found in many forms at Pinewood. Wonderful grounds provide varied opportunities for learning. EYFS and Pre-Prep pupils enjoy ‘a classroom without walls, stimulating learning and acting as a spring board for imagination, pupils develop an excellent understanding of the world through the innovative use of different areas, including a tree and scrub covered ‘fairy circle’, a very special place where children speak and listen, share ideas, debate and learn…’ (Ofsted Report 2008).
Multi-sensory beds and a poly tunnel extend the Science, English and Maths curriculum. Pupils measure the distance between seedlings and see what happens if they are planted too close or too far apart. They estimate the weight of tomato and potato crops. They measure the height of sweetcorn, using the information in data handling and ICT lessons. October’s pumpkins have been used in fractions lessons before being turned into cakes; onions and potatoes were given to the local community at Harvest Festival, and other produce was given to the Swindon Food Bank charity. Much of the salad eaten at lunch was school grown!
Recently, Year 8 pupils took up a Bio-Diesel challenge; they researched making fuel, spoke to local caterers about sourcing chip oil, presented to governors on how the school could make bio-diesel to run the tractors and presented at the Oxford Bio-Diesel Conference. Themed Curriculum ‘wow’ days like ‘Year 3 Explorers and ‘Jog Around the World’ reflect teachers’ innovative and imaginative ability to create LOtC experiences.
‘Pinewood Adventure’ documents a LOtC journey and is very much at the heart of our LOtC ethos. The extensive programme of Activities embraces a holistic education, providing opportunities for improvement in both cerebral and physical activities, ranging from chess to judo, from cooking to jewellery, from archery to polo.
The regular pupil trips, as well as the residential Pinewood Adventure trips in the Summer Term, means engagement with speakers and visitors is frequent. Every year pupils meet over 25 visitors ranging from travelling theatre companies, African Street Dancers to the fastest blind man on the planet.
These are real life active ways of developing skills, fostering emotional and social understanding, giving real meaning to learning. LOtC is not just in Pinewood’s heart it is at its soul!