We were very pleased to award Therfield First School (Royston) a Multi-Subject Award for two large wooden teepees. In a strongly argued application, Tara McGovern (Headteacher), explained how the project would fit into their existing impressive drive for outdoor learning:
"At Therfield, we have been on a journey for effective outdoor learning for the past four years. We introduced 'Outdoor School' in May 2017, where all children had a weekly lesson outside, led by a specialist teacher. At the same time, we introduced greater emphasis on using our outside spaces for as many curriculum lessons as possible. In 2018, we introduced Forest School and now very proud of our high quality, embedded forest school provision.
We have fundraised to purchase outside overalls for all pupils and have created a welly wall to store our pupils’ wellies, which stay permanently at school. We want to be ready, during all weathers, to take our learning outside.”
Tara then went on to extol the many virtues of learning outdoors:
“We strongly feel that this offers a more practical, hands-on approach to learning, providing our pupils opportunities to make real life links to their learning. We also recognise and witness first-hand the benefits on our pupils emotional and social wellbeing by learning in the natural environment. …It also provides opportunities for pupils to learn and develop new skills and to find a voice that we do not always see within the classroom. …Children's imaginative play will be promoted…”
The teepees will benefit a very wide range of pupils:
The whole school will benefit. Outside, of the 5 teachers and our forest school specialist that the school employs to teach across our three classes, the teepees would also be used by other adults overseeing small groups/projects. This would include:
Teaching Assistants leading small groups
1:1 support, including SEN (Autism, Sensory, Additional Learning Needs)
Therapies - Play, Music, Lego etc
…These will run parallel to our outside learning circle and will be used by all pupils. They will be integral to outside learning lessons, small group and 1:1 interventions and in promoting pro-social experiences during break and lunch times.
…We also allow the local pre-school to use our outside spaces as they have very limited outside areas attached to the local village hall that they use. These would be available for the pre-school leaders to use with their young children.
…I also regularly reach out to the Children's Centre, that are based in the nearest town as they have very limited reach to our parents in the village. I am sure that these will prove a welcomed addition to any 'stay and play' sessions that they lead on site in the future.”
Finally, researching the best quality and effective products/services for a fair price always strengthens funding applications to us. Tara did just that:
“Ordinarily, these are exceptionally expensive and we are a very small school. Our budget is based on having just 52 pupils. We have seen much more cost-effective versions on the Costco website, and we would arrange for the teepees to be assembled.”