PSB Staff Training Day in Gray’s Wood

29th January 24

On Monday 22nd January, we hosted our first Pre-Senior Baccalaureate training day.  The day after Storm Isha, which brought winds touching nearly 100mph on Sunday night, Rhys Jones from ‘Campfire Wild Adventures‘ joined us with two bushcraft instructors.

Joined by staff from seven other PSB schools, we spent a day in our outdoor learning space, Gray’s Wood, learning how to deliver fun and engaging outdoor learning through bushcraft and Forest School style activities. For example, multiple methods of fire lighting were taught and practised: using flints and steel, flint and feather sticks, solar, friction, hay and horseshoe fungus, cotton wool and Vaseline, potassium permanganate and glycerine, a battery and wire wool. Matches hardly featured!  We also learned some clever knots e.g. Bowline and Prussic knots whilst building and securing a multitude of set-ups of tarp shelters.

Prince’s Mead adopted PSB in 2022, a programme of study for children that aims to prepare them for the challenges of life as young adults by focusing on the development of core skills: leadership, collaboration, independence, thinking and learning, review and improvement, and communication.

Our outdoor learning sessions, at least one per week for each pupil, play an important role in developing these core skills. We all ‘know’ that getting outside is good for children but research now tells us that taking learning outside the classroom can have a huge impact on children’s confidence, social skills, communication, motivation, physical skills and knowledge and understanding. It also teaches children that learning can happen anywhere, at any time.

We are lucky to have such comprehensive outdoor learning facilities at Prince’s Mead and our recent ISI Inspection report spoke of pupils ‘greatly appreciat[ing] the ambience and beauty of the natural environment’. Our teachers are always thinking about how they can incorporate outdoor learning into the curriculum, for example, utilising the recent cold snap to teach pupils about ice and the different states of matter.

Most importantly research has also highlighted the positive impact that outdoor learning can have on children’s mental health. Being amongst nature reduces stress and anxiety, and encourages mindfulness, improves self-esteem, and nurtures a sense of connection to the environment, fostering a positive mindset for lifelong mental resilience.