Outdoor learning at Abbot’s Hill

Thursday 5 November 2020

Set in 76 acres of woodland and parkland overlooking the Gade Valley, Abbot’s Hill School offers pupils access to unparalleled facilities and inspiring grounds to explore. For our Prep pupils, outdoor learning is high on our priority list and Woodland School has been a long established part of the curriculum for Reception to Year 2 pupils.

As one pupil said “It’s my favourite lesson of the week!”. 

It is a huge hit for our girls, who pull on their wellies and waterproof jackets, excited to join Mrs Johnston in their very own designated Woodland School. Using this as a base, pupils also have the opportunity to head out into the wider school site to investigate.

Lessons for the Pre-Prep School

In Reception, the pupils learn through play often using seasonal themes as a basis for the lessons. Earlier this month as autumnal hues began to take over at Abbot’s Hill, the girls collected the golden leaves to craft Owl masks. Later this month, they’ll be making brooms out of foraged materials in order to  fly around to examine Halloween creepy crawlies!

For Year 1 and Year 2, Woodland School uses the science curriculum as their inspiration. The pupils get the opportunity to be hands-on with their classroom topics and the outdoor space  is used as an extension of the classroom. This term the pupils have been busy gardening as a way to explore the life cycle of plants and vegetables. Most excitingly, they dug up potatoes that the previous year group had planted.

Prep and Senior School outdoor opportunities 

For the older year groups, there are a plethora of outdoor clubs that pupils can join such as Eco Club and Orienteering (which is new next term!). Where possible classes do make use of the fantastic grounds available to them. Teachers engage children with maths lessons outside, for example, by multiplying using sticks. Art classes also use natural resources to create masterpieces.

Developments on the site are ongoing and next year, there will be a completed amphitheatre so that the creative subjects can take advantage of, performing with the valley as their backdrop.

Abbot’s Hill Woodland School tell’s a story

Speaking to the enthusiastic Mrs Johnston, would instil a positivity and excitement about the world around us to even the most extreme of couch potatoes. Keen to “awaken” something in the pupils, the Woodland School lead, is on a mission to help the pupils in appreciating what is around them and taking a genuine interest.

“There is nature all around us here at Abbot’s, from the moment the girls head up the drive whether it be on the school bus or with their parents, they look out across the lawns and spot the old oak tree, 200 years old, planted by the paper mill owner John Dickinson and point out to their friends and families where badgers have been found making dens.”  – Mrs L Johnston, Woodland School Lead

The grounds at Abbot’s Hill really are a testament to the history of the local area of Apsley. From the hollow oak tree explored in Woodland School trees to the Lion Head emblems in the converted Stables block, there really is history steeped in all corners of the site. Through Woodland School, Mrs L Johnston helps pupils make these connections and create an interest that is beyond what the eye can initially see.