What went well

I personally appreciated the time and attention which Felicity invested at the start in observing and talking to the children in order to understand the patterns of their play and their ideas for the outdoor classroom project.

She was very quick to develop an intuitive feel for the values and learning culture of our school and to translate our vision for outdoor learning into something tangible and achievable within a limited budget.

Felicity shared photographs and sketches from other school outdoor learning projects in order to help us discard the things we didn’t want and to identify our “must haves”. Through this process, we were able to create our own personalised “mood board” from which she helped us to achieve something of real originality and lasting value Active pupil involvement was central to the whole project – not just in the planning and designing but also in the construction Felicity quickly achieved a genuine sense of community engagement by involving parents and all members of staff, including Support staff, Lunchtime Assistants and the Site Manager. She worked inclusively with everyone and her practical, well organised approach facilitated positive outcomes for all.

Felicity managed the whole process of tendering to architects and contractors on our behalf and provided us with helpful guidance and unbiased advice throughout. She was also instrumental in bidding for and securing Lottery funding for the project.

I particularly valued Felicity’s educational expertise and the importance she placed on enhancing the quality of young children’s learning experiences in the outdoors in order to impact upon their overall sense of well-being and enjoyment

Felicity maintained an active interest and involvement in the project throughout and she was always quick to respond to any questions or concerns. When snags arose with the contractors, Felicity was proactive in helping us to resolve them.

I have thought long and hard about the “even better if…” but I can’t think of anything which could have been improved in the context of the remit we gave you. With regard to how I would describe your role to another Headteacher – the thing I would want to emphasise is that you combine all the creative skills and innovation of a landscape architect with a really deep and instinctive understanding of how children interact physically, intellectually, emotionally and spiritually with the natural world. The best teachers are able to see the world through a child’s eyes – and this was the reason I wanted you to lead our outdoor classroom project.

Den Building Zone - The impact of the project

Our Den-building “village” was completed at the end of September 2014 and we held a series of den-building workshops for children and their parents early in November, which included construction skills, team-work and risk management. Since then the “village” has been in regular use by children in all Year groups at playtimes and as part of their daily curriculum and it has already impacted positively on many different aspects of our school life:

  • Positive, supportive relationships between older and younger children based on trust, mutual respect and shared enjoyment
  • Improved standards of behaviour at playtimes, particularly among those children with social and behavioural needs
  • Improved quality of play and social interaction at lunchtimes
  • Increased levels of motivation, independence and resilience amongst pupils of all ages
  • Increased levels of focus and engagement among boys
  • Raised levels of self-esteem and self-confidence for vulnerable groups
  • Higher percentage of children regularly engaged in gross motor activity
  • Enhanced outdoor learning opportunities linked to Science and Technology curriculum
  • “Hard to reach” parents taking a more active role in school life
  • Higher percentage of fathers volunteering in school
  • Positive feedback from prospective parents and visitors to the school
 

Teresa Offer.
Head
Liss Infants School

To develop your outdoor learning and school grounds get in touch
with Felicity on 07968 771582 or email info@landscapesnaturally.co.uk