Last month we heard that we had been awarded the national Learning Outside the Classroom Mark (gold status), the highest accolade of its kind. As you can imagine our whole school community is thrilled with the news and despite the current summer holiday period (where our school communications and social media accounts are usually quiet) our channels are abuzz with chatter about our work and celebration of our achievement.
The award is great for many reasons- the excellent work of our staff and pupils is recognised and celebrated, the profile of our caring, high attaining and forward-thinking school is raised, and the benefits of learning beyond the classroom are shared with a view to supporting others to undertake this important aspect of learning and teaching.
But this work is only important if it is first rooted in and then grown through our school values; nurture, inspire, flourish.
We nurture each and every one of our pupils through the relationships we build. We nurture by carefully and thoughtfully providing daily opportunities to take learning, across all eight curricular areas, beyond the walls of their classrooms. But to nurture also means to protect and a core part of our work is about equipping children to meet and manage risk in way that prepares them for learning and life now and in their futures. Protection isn’t about making their experiences as safe as possible rather it is about giving learners progressive opportunities to explore, experiment and assess risk in an environment that is as safe as necessary.
Our learners flourish in our school and can talk about their success and achievements; things that are unique and special to just them. But our learning beyond the classroom offer is also underpinned by our ecological values based on the principles of Leave No Trace. These 7 principles support and challenge us to consider how our activities impact the spaces and peoples around us. In this way we demonstrate our commitment to ensuring our common home, local and global, flourishes.
Pupils bring trustingly their ideas, offer their talents and readily outline their priorities through the stories they share. These behaviours are mirrored by our staff team as they seek to serve our school community and build further the excellent practice learning beyond the classroom in our school. This work, coalescing around the shared understanding of staff and pupils, is truly inspirational and forms the bedrock of all that we have achieved and have yet to explore.
So, yes, the Award is wonderful and important but, it is the values that underpin our work that really matter. Nurture, Inspire, Flourish.