We have recently installed a Yurt at LVS Oxford to enhance opportunities for the students to take part in outdoor learning activities. A Mongolian Yurt, or Ger as it is traditionally known, is a unique structure that has been used by nomads for millennia. Yurts today are used for a wide variety of purposes, from permanent dwellings to classrooms and glamping sites.
Outdoor Learning is a cross-curricular subject; the main objective is to exploit the potential of the school’s extensive grounds for learning. We also utilise the surrounding countryside area where we are able to access woodland, fields, farms and farm animals within walking distance.
The grounds and Yurt are used for cross curricular activities. The major focus is on work related learning giving students a realistic experience of potential progression opportunities in the world of work. Students gain practical skills in land based studies.
LVS Oxford abide by the Forest school’s principles include promoting the holistic development of all those involved, fostering resilient, confident and creative learners who enjoy learning outdoors. Students are encouraged to participate in the John Muir Award with the lower school completing the Discovery Award and the Sixth Form; the Explorer and Conserver Awards which encourages progressive involvement.
Student progress in Outdoor Learning will be assessed under all curriculum subjects according to the area covered. Targets are also entered to cover topics related to specific outdoor activities.
The school is currently applying for the Eco Schools scheme which involves caring for the school environment, bulb planting, maintaining beds and vegetable plots, composting and recycling. The school has a nature trail and a tree trail, where the students can learn about the history, geography and science of trees.
Many of our outdoor learning activities involve collaboration with other departments, for example totem poles, signage and garden decorations have been produced with the Art Department and ground bird feeders and root observation boxes with the DT Department.
The grounds are used for horticulture and fruit picking, the products of which could then used for food technology, enterprise and juicing. The grounds are equipped with a polytunnel, greenhouse, sensory garden, raised beds, a small animal enclosure and a fruit cage. These areas are maintained mainly by the students.
We wish to regenerate the under-used green space in the school grounds. We now have an outdoor classroom (Yurt) which will enable the students to gain the skills in land based studies for whole-school use with resources for all key stages.
Next year (2020) there will be an Outdoor Learning Week at LVS Oxford where all lessons will be taught outdoors using the grounds.
Outdoor learning is also an essential part of functional and life skills where learning is brought to life through real life-experiences. Studies have shown that mindfulness, yoga and meditation in the outdoors has a positive impact on good mental health.
Experience within LVS Oxford and feedback from other schools demonstrates the impact that outdoor learning can have in meeting cross-curricular targets. Concepts that may be abstract to students can often be assimilated and understood when taken into the outside environment and applied to real life situations.