Embracing the great outdoors

Posted on 6th Dec 2022 in Which School?, Outdoor Learning, Curriculum

Stroud School believes that outdoor learning has huge benefits for children.

At Stroud School, King Edward VI Preparatory in Romsey, it has been a year like no other for outdoor provision. The school’s ambition is to ensure their children flourish and become the very best version of themselves and they are hugely ambitious for their children, but do not believe academic rigour has to be to the detriment of a happy childhood. Thriving outside the classroom is just as important as innovating within it, and their children have been learning outside more than ever before!

In particular, the school was delighted to bring its summer residentials back into the school programme this year with school groups in Scotland, on the south coast, the wilds of Dartmoor and Ironbridge to name a few! This was not only the first residential trip for its younger children, but the first residential trip for many of the older children who have missed out on the last few years of shorter residentials, and acclimatising to time away from families.

Following this, Stroud embraced its second ‘Intrepidus week’: where the whole school enjoyed a week of adventures and bravery. Intrepidus Week included a bespoke timetable of events in each year group, designed to excite, challenge and broaden the children’s experiences. These events were run alongside the school’s normal English and Maths curriculums to ensure it continued its normal, rigorous learning alongside the extra adventures.

Stroud was also delighted to welcome ‘Campfire Wild Adventures’ back, allowing all children to enjoy a bushcraft session during the week. Children also undertook a range of activities including orienteering, dancing, art, swimming and a nature walk. This all being a part of its drive to embed and further develop outdoor learning. Following the National Lockdowns, last September 2021 also saw the introduction of Mr Caie as Outdoor Education Leader and Wildlife Ranger, a new role for the school. Mr Caie has spent the last year focussing on unlocking the potential of the school’s extensive outdoor areas, whilst developing the curriculum of outdoor learning across all year groups.

This new momentum has been clear from the start, with the school’s introduction of new Outdoor Learning sessions built into each half-term for Years 3-8. Some highlights of these new sessions included: a rewilding study with Year 3, forest bathing with Year 4, Year 5 undertaking the RFS Junior Forester Award, and orienteering challenges with Year 6. The school’s new outdoor provision also supported its STEAM week and World Book Day; there were space-themed challenges to build students’ teamwork and problem-solving abilities as part of our World Book Day, and sessions looking at planetary rovers and lunar craters in STEAM week.

Stroud has also begun the re-development of its outdoor spaces, with several areas of woodland getting a new lease of life with pathway restoration, seating areas and hedgerows. Other areas are being left to recover organically as part of a wider rewilding effort. Mr Caie has also constructed a wildlife hide nestled into a forgotten corner of the grounds, in which children have been able to get closer to wildlife and also have an outdoor hub to use in wetter weather. Many other exciting projects are on the horizon!

Alongside offering new opportunities to its children, Stroud School has begun developing ways in which its facilities and staff can support the local community. To kick this off, 2022 has seen Stroud working with the brilliant team at Romsey Young Carers to offer outdoor experiences and events, including Easter egg hunts, as part of the charity’s support for young carers and their families. With success and enjoyment already felt by all involved, we are looking forward to developing and expanding this outreach next year.

As a whole, this year has seen our outdoor spaces come alive with activity. The true potential of the school’s surroundings is being unleashed for the benefit of its children, community and natural environment!

It is this, along with a combination of passion for being with friends, having new adventures and learning within a different context, combined with determination to live the school’s motto of being forever undaunted – In Aeternum Intrepidus – that Stroud sees its children push themselves out of their comfort zones and embark on activities and endeavours that sometimes feel quite challenging.

Stepping out of our comfort zone, as we all know, is the way in which we learn. We are all here for that single purpose of flourishing and growing together, and with grit and determination Stroud School believes its children have shown that we can all do hard things and have a fabulous time, pushing our limits and enjoying that little bit of independence from the security of our known environment. Stroud is very excited to see what the future holds…

For more information about Stroud School, King Edward VI preparatory, please visit the school website https://stroud.kes.school or call on 01794 513231.

This article first appeared in the 2023 edition of Which School? You can view the digital version of the guidebook here: