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Learning Outside the Classroom

Learning Outside the Classroom overview

At the Vale of Evesham School we embrace learning opportunities in a wide variety of settings and we aim to offer our students many experiences throughout their time with us.


In the Early Years children spend lots of their time learning outside.  Children have access to outdoor learning spaces across the day and staff aim to deliver exciting play opportunities both indoors and outdoors at all times.  In addition to this our youngest students also access Outdoor Learning sessions at our onsite Outdoor Learning woodland area.  Here they can access sand, water and mud play.  Our early years outdoor learning is very much child-led and the students love exploring.  Adults can help to facilitate skills across all of the prime areas of learning but we also always observe lots of fantastic evidence of the ‘Characteristics of Effective Learning’ in our Outdoor provision.


As students move in to KS1 they continue to access our Outdoor Learning area on a weekly basis.  They may also have access to an outdoor area attached to their classroom for use throughout the week.  Students will typically have some opportunities for educational visits in KS1 as well.

Complex  learners in KS1 and KS2 also access our Outdoor Learning area onsite for Sensory experiences to support their personalised learning and targets.

Lower KS2

In Lower KS2 our Semi-formal students access our Forest School provision.  We visit a local farm in Sedgberrow where we can access a wood.  Here we have the opportunity to climb and use tyre swings! A trained Forest School Leader runs these sessions and we follow the Forest School ethos incorporating child led and play based learning, supported risk taking and exploration.  We aim to develop students’ social and emotional skills such as their confidence and self-esteem, self-belief and resilience.  Students tackle real world problem solving and develop their physical skills tackling a challenging woodland environment with obstacles, trees and ropes courses.  We hope that the skills students learn in the Forest make them better learners in the classroom – it is a holistic approach creating resilient, independent and creative learners.

Upper KS2 & KS3

Students in KS3 continue to learn and make progress through the Forest School approach, following the same ethos as outlined above.  They progress to using a different site, the Adventure Playground in Evesham.  In KS3 Forest School students build on their skills and increase their independence.  They continue to enjoy activities such a making and having fires, building dens, cooking and using tools.

Complex learners in KS3 access either Outdoor Learning opportunities onsite or they access offsite opportunities where appropriate / possible.  They may visit local woods such as Tiddesley or Oversley or National Trust parks such as Croome.

Outdoor and Adventurous Activities in Upper KS2 through to High School (PE Curriculum)

 In the first half of the Autumn term, second half of Spring term and the Summer term the focus is on paddle-sport, occasionally subject to change due to weather or river conditions. Children’s first experience is in the bell-boats, working as a team and learning and improving basic paddle skills. All children are reminded about safety and encouraged to think and act independently when following routines such as putting on buoyancy aids, collecting paddles and getting on and off the boat. Whilst bell-boating, we’ll often consider the environment around us, sometimes pick up litter as well as noting river features and travelling through a lock. As the children progress, many will move into open canoes in pairs or even individual kayaks or stand-up paddle boards.

Over the winter, activities are land-based. Starting with small-scale orienteering activities, children progress to more advanced navigation and map reading skills enabling them to complete longer walks in a range of local environments from fields and meadows to more challenging hills. Additionally, we sometimes learn about shelter building and other camp-craft skills.  The experiences and skills that students gain through taking part in OAA gives students confidence and independence skills as well as key life skills such as managing risk.

In KS3 OAA is accessed by both Formal and Semi-formal learners, along with access to Forest School as outlined above. As students move in to High School they access OAA events days.     


Years 9-11

Complex and Semi-formal learners in High School continue their learning through the Forest School provision.  In High School learners visit woods in the Lenches to apply their skills in a different setting.  Through their Forest School sessions the students can evidence some of their work towards the JASS scheme.  As mentioned above, High School Formal curriculum students access OAA events days.

6th Form Curriculum

When students reach 6th Form there are some exciting new opportunities on offer.  Students can take part in the Duke of Edinburgh award scheme and the volunteering component of this takes place at the Heart of England Forest.  We are really pleased to be working with this fantastic organisation and the bigger project of creating a huge broadleaf woodland for years to come.  We are really proud of what our students achieve through these opportunities.

Our 6th form students also access lots of outdoor opportunities across the breadth of their curriculum, including studying Horticulture, Community based learning (including travel training, how to use local facilities and how to access health and dental care).  6th form students may also access offsite learning at Pershore College which includes animal care, horticulture and construction.


  EYFS KS1 Lower   KS2 Upper KS2 and KS3 Years 9-11 6th Form
EYFS Outdoor Learning opportunities – specialist onsite area & patios linked to classrooms    







Community based learning


Pershore college

Complex   Outdoor learning -onsite Outdoor learning – onsite and offsite Forest School
Semi-formal curriculum Outdoor learning -onsite


Forest School OAA

Forest School


Forest School
Formal Curriculum   OAA


Forest School


Events day

Educational Visits

In addition to the fantastic outdoor opportunities we offer our students on a regular basis, Vale of Evesham School students of all ages have access to a variety of ‘one off’ educational visits to support their learning across the curriculum.

We try to make the most of our local area and community.  Older students walk to the local supermarket to buy ingredients for their cookery sessions for example, other students might conduct traffic surveys nearby, or walk to the local church for a visit or a school service.  We also visit our local parks, and the library too.  Bellboating is another popular activity locally and our students sometimes access this outside of the regular bellboating provision, we also enjoy taking part in the local regattas with other schools.

Students have the opportunity to visit local places of interest such as Sudeley Castle, the GWR railway, or local museums such as Hartlebury, Avoncroft or the Commandery.  Students have the opportunity to make the most of our rural area by visiting local farms and discovering our market gardening heritage by visiting local orchards and fruit farms to pick seasonal fruit.  Visiting Stratford-upon-Avon is another popular visit for our students as it has so much to offer, from a visit to the butterfly farm in support of our learning in ‘How my world works/Science’, to seeing a show at the Royal Shakespeare Company’s theatre to complement our learning in English & Literacy.

We also have educational visits that go further afield to a wide variety of places: the SS Great Britain and the Science museum in Bristol, Cotswold water park, farm park or wildlife park, and the Sea Life Centre or Think Tank in Birmingham.  Our PE team also run regular residential trips to take part in the International Tag Rugby tournament which is always a highlight for the students (and staff!) who take part.

We are also really grateful to the local Rotary club who support our students in accessing visits throughout the year, such as a Christmas trip to Smart Trees and a Summer visit to All Things Wild for our younger students and trips to the cinema or bowling for our older students.


We hope that such a wide range of opportunities and experiences gives all our students a lifelong love of the Great Outdoors!


  EYFS KS1 Lower


Upper KS2 & KS3 Year 9-11 6th Form
EYFS Outdoor Learning opportunities – specialist onsite area & patios linked to classrooms    







Community based learning

Pershore college

Complex   Outdoor learning -onsite Outdoor learning – onsite and offsite Forest School
Semi-formal curriculum Outdoor learning -onsite


Forest School OAA

Forest School


Forest School
Formal Curriculum   OAA


Forest School

OAA Events Days



Outdoor Learning LTP

Aims and Intent

Outdoor learning at the Vale of Evesham School offers children opportunities to learn in a different environment.  Pupils may practice and embed learning from a wide range of curriculum areas whilst outside.  Pupils will learn from the seasons and the natural world.  We use the natural environment to inspire our activities and learning experiences.  We hope to create a lifelong relationship between our learners and the natural world.  Outdoor Learning sessions will be distinct learning opportunities and not necessarily linked to current topics in the classroom, as we follow the natural world and the pupil’s interests.

We aim for pupils:

To discover, explore and connect to the natural world through using our senses.

To learn about the outdoors and the natural world (plants, animals, the environment, sustainability)

To explore depth, breadth, and progression in learning in an alternative setting (eg practice our counting skills in a different setting with different resources, apply our knowledge of classroom based learning outside)

To develop health and wellbeing – spending time outside is good for our physical and mental health


Outdoor Learning sessions are an integral part of the EYFS curriculum offer for our Early Years children.  We recognise their statutory entitlement to spend a large amount of time learning outside in child-led play.  Our outdoor sessions support the delivery of the EYFS across the prime areas and children will have the opportunity to make progress across these areas.  Children will also have lots of opportunity to embed the Characteristics of Effective Learning and explore and develop these skills so they are ready to access learning in other areas.

Semi-Formal KS1

Our Semi-formal KS1 learners have only recently begun the semi-formal curriculum, having completed their transition from EYFS to KS1.  However the approach in KS1 retains lots of opportunities for child-led learning and the Outdoor learning sessions are a key part of this.


Outdoor Learning sessions support learning for our Complex learners across the complex curriculum.  Outdoor learning offers lots of opportunity for choice making, developing joint attention, vocalisations, ‘conversation’ with others.  Being outside is inherently a sensory experience and their LOTC opportunities for Complex learners is a key way to support their sensory curriculum learning.  It also offers pupils activities and challenges that support their Physical curriculum. Outdoor Learning sessions support the SEMH curriculum through offering time for pupils to be social.  It supports their emotional wellbeing with time to recharge, to be alone and to follow their own interests.  Being outdoors in nature has a positive effect on wellbeing for everyone.

Implementation of Outdoor Learning

Children will have access to a wide variety of outdoor learning experiences and activities such as:

  • Sand and Water play
  • Mud play
  • Reading
  • Mark making and writing
  • Climbing and Physical activities
  • Den making
  • Circle time activities
  • Music
  • Exploration of schemas.
  • Sensory exploration
  • Sensory Diet activities
  • Intensive Interaction
  • Total Communication strategies

Outdoor learning activities will follow a ‘continuous provision’ model and will be largely child-led for EY and KS1 children, with some adult led activities (eg story or circle time activities).  Complex learners will be supported by adults to make choices and access different activities and experiences.  We recognise that being outside often results in higher levels of engagement from learners.

Forest School Long term plan

 Intent, Aims & Ethos

Forest School at the Vale of Evesham School is offered to students in Lower KS2 upwards.  Like our outdoor learning provision for younger students, the Forest School program is inspired by the seasons and the natural world.   We hope to create a lifelong relationship between our learners and the natural world.  Forest School takes place in a woodland or natural wooded environment on different sites around our local area to support the development of a relationship between the learner and the natural world. Forest School aims to foster a relationship with nature through regular personal experiences in order to develop long-term, environmentally sustainable attitudes and practices.

Forest School sessions at the Vale of Evesham School follow the FSA ethos and guiding principles:

“Forest School is a child-centred inspirational learning process, that offers opportunities for holistic growth through regular sessions. It is a long-term program that supports play, exploration and supported risk taking. It develops confidence and self-esteem through learner inspired, hands-on experiences in a natural setting.

The process helps and facilitates more than knowledge-gathering, it helps learners develop socially, emotionally, spiritually, physically and intellectually. It creates a safe, non-judgemental nurturing environment for learners to try stuff out and take risks. Forest School inspires a deep and meaningful connection to the world and an understanding of how a learner fits within it. Our approach to risk means that learners constantly expand on their abilities by solving real-world issues, building self-belief and resilience. We believe that risk is more than just potential for physical harm, but a more holistic thing, there are risks in everything we do, and we grow by overcoming them. Forest School therefore, helps participants to become, healthy, resilient, creative and independent learners.” FSA website 2021.

Forest School sessions will be responsive to the needs and interests of the learners.  Sessions will incorporate play-based learning and choice making.  They are primarily child-led sessions.

Forest School aims to promote the holistic development of all those involved, fostering resilient, confident, independent and creative learners Forest School programmes aim to develop, where appropriate, the physical, social, cognitive, linguistic, emotional, social and spiritual aspects of the learner.

Activities & Implementation

At Forest School we believe all learners are:

  • equal, unique and valuable
    • competent to explore & discover
    • entitled to experience appropriate risk and challenge
    • entitled to choose, and to initiate and drive their own learning and development
    • entitled to experience regular success
    • entitled to develop positive relationships with themselves and other people
    • entitled to develop a strong, positive relationship with their natural world

Therefore we plan to offer pupils a wide range of opportunities across the year, incorporating the different seasons.  Some of the activities and experiences we may offer pupils are:

  • Building fires,
  • Cooking on a fire,
  • Building shelters and dens
  • Weaving
  • Creative projects – crafts, clay, transient art, loose parts etc
  • Using tools
  • Climbing
  • Mud kitchen and mud play
  • Whittling

We use a variety of different sites in our local area for providing Forest School.  Each site offers different things and sites are carefully matched to the needs of the group attending the session.

Impact in LOTC

Outdoor learning in the Early Years will be assessed against the Early Support assessment framework that is used in Reception at the Vale of Evesham School.  Staff will look for evidence of learning and progress in the prime areas as well as the Characteristics of Effective Learning.  Practitioners will use Evidence for Learning to record evidence of children’s learning and share this with the class teacher for assessment purposes.

Semi –formal/ formal learners will be assessed against their ILIs and cross curricular links to the V Levels. Evidence will be recorded on Evidence for learning.

The impact of outdoor learning for complex learners will be assessed using the engagement model and VOE routes and will be evidenced using the Evidence for Learning online system.  Information will be shared with class teachers where they do not lead the outdoor learning activities so that they can use this in their assessments.


OAA  – Please see the PE LTP

6th Form – Please refer to 6th curriculum for more detail of these activities and programmes of learning.