In October, our partners at nasen held their annual awards ceremony, which celebrated excellence in special educational needs and disabilities (SEND). Gilbrook Primary School were nominated for an “Excellent Practice in Primary School Award”. Although they didn’t win on this occasion, the work they are doing must be celebrated, and good practice shared so that others can follow suit. They have kindly provided Axcis with this guest blog about their outdoor learning ethos.
Outdoor learning in our school is key to many aspects of the curriculum and to promoting positive mental health and well-being for all our pupils…
For example, we do much of our science work in our land based science area, where pupils are in charge of the environment and work to improve the habitat for local wildlife. Building a bird sanctuary to encourage wild birds to use our site and creating a pond area that is used by frogs and toads. Our children develop numerous skills watching some baby chicks hatch and have developed their nurturing skills looking after our sheep, chickens, ducks, guinea pigs and rabbits.
Looking after animals has a positive effect on pupils with Social, Emotional and Mental Health Difficulties as they teach about nurture and relationships with others and help pupils to calm down when they are in crisis.
We are developing sensory areas in our outside spaces as a large proportion of our pupils have extreme sensory processing difficulties and they benefit from a holistic outdoors experience. Many of our pupils do not go outside as many of them live in urban settings and do not access the outdoors as a result of a combination of these issues and their autistic tendencies to stay on their own indoors.
Utilising our outdoor space effectively has had a profound effect on our children’s well-being, helping them to overcome many barriers to learning and giving them better future life chances.
Sarah Long, Assistant Head & SENCO, Gilbrook Primary School
You can learn all about the nomination of Gilbrook School, plus many of the other provisions celebrated by the nasen awards in another recent axcis blog.