Tucked in a hollow between Wood Lane and Bolt’s Croft in Chippenham, it might be hard to imagine the space and environment that enables Charter Primary School to offer its pupils the opportunity for outdoor learning. However, this school has successfully developed its outdoor activity as an integral part of the curriculum to such a degree that it has recently been awarded Challenge Partners ‘Quality of Area of Excellence for Learning in the Natural Environment (LiNE)’.

“Challenge Partners is a practitioner-led charity that enables collaboration between schools to enhance the life chances of all children,” explained Charter’s School Business Manager, Lyn Isherwood. “It provides the opportunity for schools to collaboration, challenge, support and advice, while supporting improvements in educational outcomes which would not be possible for a school, or group of schools, to achieve as effectively or efficiently on its own.”

Charter’s forest school teacher, Claire Coverley, added, “Forest school is undertaken by all year groups, from ages 4 to 11, including fs2 (reception class). It’s carried out in small groups of six children over the course of six weeks week to ensure that the children have the best experience possible. These sessions allow the children to learn a range of skills from whittling and sawing, to making campfires, outdoor cooking and den building. It’s also been extended to include whole class trips to local woodlands, art and story-telling based on outdoor activities, and even an outdoor class Christmas party! The school was also invited to send children to plant trees in Chippenham Arboretum.”

Headteacher, Sarah Flack, said, “Learning in the natural environment is having a clear impact for our children that is both academic and also social and emotional. What’s more, parents are also becoming engaged, meaning that families are spending more time in the countryside. We’ve also been able to welcome other schools in the region to visit Charter and see the outdoor learning in practise, allowing them to develop their own sessions.”