Outdoor learning

Outdoor time often provides the most memorable learning experiences. It helps children to make sense of the world around them by putting their learning into a meaningful context.

What are the benefits of outdoor learning?


Being outdoors feels great! It can energise and brighten our day through being surrounded by nature and allows us to disconnect from some of the pressures that everyday life brings.

Outdoor learning opportunities should be part of every child’s schooling to provide engaging discovery experiences while also improving their mental and physical wellbeing. The freedom and fun that comes from a reflective, robust and purposeful outdoor learning programme is something every child should experience. Going back to nature encourages kids just to be kids by igniting their sense of curiosity and excitement.

Having lessons out of doors with practical, hands-on classes deepens the learning experience. It is part of a holistic approach to teaching which combines a digital education with classroom-based and outdoor-based learning. Through exploration and experimentation children gain a greater understanding of problem solving, how to communicate and work as a team, and to develop resilience by taking reasonable risks in response to healthy challenge.

In addition to the skills children develop through outdoor learning, it is also greatly beneficial to their mental and physical health. This is particularly important for young children growing up in London, who may not have access to many green spaces, as a way to boost their mood and confidence levels together with increasing the amount of active movement they do each day.

What does the outdoor learning programme involve at Prospect House?


At Prospect House we actively promote outdoor learning for all children. The younger years busy themselves with our on-site forest school area before moving to Putney Heath for the outdoor learning programme when a little older and finally graduating to activity-based residential school trips starting in Year 3 and going up to Year 6. Highlights include our weekly morning running club where 90 children aged 6 – 11 join the PE team on Putney Heath as well as our annual Year 6 ski trip to France.

Lessons in our on-site Forest School allow for many cross-curricular opportunities where projects can involve elements from English lessons, science, art and even PSCHE. A typical week would involve a Year 1 class reading Stick Man by Julia Donaldson before creating their own stick people from objects they can find, Reception learning how to safely use a mallet as part of their shelter-building research and Year 2 exploring how to work as a team as they compete in groups to cross the ground without touching it, as quickly as possible.

Our formal outdoor learning programme takes place on Putney Heath and is aimed at connecting with nature through woodland crafts and survival skills. It covers the whole school year and really allows the children to engage with activities which reflect the changing seasons. The sessions include practical skills such as learning to read maps, how to safely build and light a fire, and the identification of local flora and fauna. We also involve creativity and imagination through teambuilding games, scavenger hunts and the creation of artworks using natural objects.

The older children take part in a variety of residential school trips in the summer term each year. Starting in Year 3, it is often their first experience of being away from home and their first step towards becoming more independent. The children spend two days doing everything from pond dipping to singing round the campfire. Then as they get older, the trips lengthen and involve more advanced activities such as abseiling, canoeing and axe throwing. This culminates in the five-day long Year 6 water sports based residential where the children take part in kayaking, sailing and windsurfing.

The integration of an outdoor leaning programme with our classroom-based and digital education initiatives has really enabled our children to be confident, resilient and happy.