Welcome to our Wellness Designs feature.
* Content updated 2021 *
Wellness Designs for School Grounds (to assist Learning and Teaching)
School grounds can provide an enormously valuable resource for learning and teaching – for any subject, at short notice and for little or no cost. So it’s vitally important that their capacity to support curriculum delivery and opportunities for learning through play are considered in their design.
To help staff get the most out of their grounds for teaching and play, designers need to talk with them.
about their needs, how they use the grounds now and how they might use them in the future. Exploring the national curriculum and QCA or school Schemes of Work will help designers and teachers see the scope of possibilities for lessons outside.
Children learn in different ways. Some learn best through seeing or hearing but many, particularly boys and some pupils with special needs, learn best through doing
Outdoors, children continue to learn through listening and looking but there are also many potential opportunities to take part in hands-on learning. The outdoors can have several advantages for practical learning and teaching – there’s more space; noise and mess are often seen as less serious issues, and children can try out real activities. It’s often when some of these learning styles are combined during first-hand experiences that the best learning takes place because all the senses are being used. The school grounds can benefit learning and teaching in three key ways, by providing:
- an alternative to an internal teaching space
- specialist facilities that it is difficult/impossible to provide inside a building
- an environment for experiential learning.
Some schools develop spaces where a whole class can join together. Many teachers value this type of space so that they can gather their pupils in one place for whole-class presentation or discussion. It also provides a focus for pupils and somewhere equipment can be left for them to collect. Spaces for smaller groups can be equally valuable.
Using the grounds for inspiring wellness
While the grounds can be a wonderful location to teach in, they can also become an inspiration for different lessons.
Easy access to the outdoors from the classroom enables teachers to use the outside as often as possible. Especially for the early years sector, free flow between inside and out is essential. But even for older pupils, direct access to the outside from their classrooms means that more frequent use of the outdoors is more likely.
Other curriculum-related features
Some schools may need curriculum-specific features such as horticulture; polytunnels, raised beds, growing areas; agriculture: areas for livestock and hard landscaped construction features; arts and music: musical instruments, a performance area; maths and science; a maths maze, a wind turbine, a dipping platform.
Learning and teaching through play
Play is an important part of pupils’ learning and development experience at school. It’s the way young children learn in particular, but it’s crucial for all age groups. Through play, children learn about themselves, others and the world around them. They learn through experimenting, taking risks, undertaking challenges and finding out where their limits lie.
Our work with school design at SpaceShapers speaks for itself when we state we are able to help you achieve your goals in terms of both internal and external teaching environments. Please see our education projects page.
Written by SpaceShapers, a firm of chartered architects in West London. They have a specific focus on architectural consultancy, low energy design and client-side project management.
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