Thomas’s has always believed in the benefits of learning beyond the classroom and we recognise that outdoor education offers children unique opportunities and experiences that cannot be taught within the constraints of their everyday education and surroundings. In response to changing times and different pressures on children, we placed outdoor learning into our regular timetable as of September 2016. We have a clear vision for outdoor education provision at Thomas’s:
- All children of all ages participate in a range of outdoor learning experiences throughout their school career
- We provide pupils with regular, frequent, challenging, enjoyable and safe opportunities to learn outdoors
- Outdoor learning has a positive impact on the individuals involved thus making Thomas’s a happier and stronger community
The lessons learnt whilst taking part in outdoor education are many. We have highlighted five key areas that will be developed in the curriculum. These five skills, along with the Thomas’s values, will equip the pupils with the life skills of critical thinking, collaboration, communication, creativity, enquiry and reflection. We believe these skills are tools our pupils will need to succeed socially, economically and environmentally in the ever-changing 21st Century.
- Personal and emotional development:
Pupils will be able to complete activities and tasks that have been designed to develop their self-esteem and build confidence. The programme will improve wellbeing and resilience. It will also enable pupils to develop the skills of leadership and ‘followship’ (the ability to stand back and work as part of a team).
- Group development:
By binding a group together through common experience over a period of time pupils grow stronger and their identity both as individuals and as a group grow. This growth will have a strong and positive impact on school culture.
- Organising, Planning and Risk Management skills:
Pupils will be exposed to an element of risk (in a controlled and caring environment) and learn to develop strategies to manage and overcome challenges.
- Nature Pedagogy:
Pupils will be immersed in nature and will learn to explore and appreciate the wonder of the outdoors. Isolation from everyday circumstances for extended periods of time will lead to self – reflection. Pupils will then begin to make a realistic assessment of their own personal strengths and weaknesses.
- Physical literacy:
All activities will be inclusive and increase physical competency and develop team-building skills.
We are able to offer our children this opportunity now due to two key factors. The first is that our relationship with the Exploration Society that started four years ago has now developed and grown into a strong relationship based on shared values. The outdoor curriculum will be delivered by and in conjunction with the Exploration Society. They have a profound understanding and love of everything outdoors and have the staff and the expertise to share their knowledge with our children. Please click here for more information on the Exploration Society.
The second is that the opportunity arose to purchase a hotel in the mountains in Austria, in the resort which we have visited for over 25 years and which will be at the centre of outdoor education at Thomas’s. We have named it Thomas’s Daheim (which means Thomas’s At Home) because in all those years of taking children to live up this mountain, all have benefited from it in ways that are hard to describe. Going there is like going home to the spirit of Thomas’s, something we want all our pupils to have experienced in time.
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