Outdoor education is the way forward

May 17, 2021

The Supported Learning; Learning for Life group at the Cambridge Regional College are taking part in a series of educational opportunities designed to take their learning outside of the classroom. The Forest School sessions will focus on the seasons, supporting student exploration of the natural world, developing their independence, risk taking and the enquiring mind.

The first off-site activity was a visit to Hinchingbrooke Country Park for a nature walk and woodland hunt, spotting natural things such as squirrels, birds, streams, leaves and pinecones.

Supported Learning Instructor, Gordon Baines said: “The students enjoyed the afternoon and were stretched in their learning and understanding of the natural world. All students exceeded my expectations using logs to balance on, exploring the woodland independently, finding dens, spotting birds and wildlife, playing hide and seek, and more importantly laughing and smiling, which is a great indicator for mental wellbeing.

One of the students has limited mobility, so we took a wheelchair thinking we would need it. In the end the student didn’t really use it, walking 90 per cent of the way unaided as he enjoyed the new environment.”

Outdoor education develops a resilience to different surroundings and being in a natural environment has huge benefits for both physical and mental wellbeing. This style of learning allows the students to explore their emotions and build confidence through supported risk taking, appropriate to the environment. Being outdoors gives the learners the freedom, time, and space to develop as individuals while working as a team to support their peers, improving their social skills ready for life after college.

Learning Support Mentor, Renata Buban added: “It was lovely to see the students become more open and accepting of different things. They were able to develop awareness, observation and imagination. The whole group enjoyed team activity, hide and seek. They were blossoming in the natural environment.

Over the coming weeks the Learning for Life group will return to Hinchingbrooke Park for a pond dipping activity before moving over the Grafham Water to explore the water cycle and experience a boat trip across the reservoir.