our ‘Edible Enterprise’. We also invested in scooters, bikes, balls, hoops and balancing toys to support the children’s physical and mental growth and well-being.

How important is outdoor learning to Maritime and your school's vision of education? Outdoor learning is central to Maritime’s vision of education; we understand that our world is evolving and we want to prepare our children for the challenges and opportunities ahead. Alongside well-being and confidence, it supports child initiated learning through spontaneous opportunities to observe and learn from nature; it inspires awe and wonder in the natural world which facilitates social communication, physical development, recognising and managing risk and promoting healthier choices. Building trust and forging relationships is key and helps our pupils to understand the importance of collaboration.

What outdoor learning activities are currently available at Bligh Primary? At Bligh Primary - our temporary home - we have been lucky enough to adopt an established outdoor space with natural

seasonal produce, and then advertising and selling it or distributing it to the local community. We also hope to encourage community participation in the project. The project will enable our students to take

control of their learning and provide an engaging platform across all subject areas; for example, the students can learn about where the vegetables originate, the best conditions for growth, their nutritional value, how to calculate the cost of production, and ways to prepare and cook them. They will then share their learning at an Ebbsfleet Green Big Outcomes© event. Unique to Maritime, Big Outcomes© take place twice a year in all the academy’s schools, and provide opportunities for the students to celebrate their learning. The children are the ‘experts’ and decide what and how they will share their knowledge and understanding with an audience of parents and the wider community. Events like these build the children’s confidence and skills. We are hoping to hold our first Big Outcomes© event on our new site next Autumn along with a vegetable market.

How has the EDC supported the school? The EDC has very kindly supported the school with a grant from the EDC Community Investment Fund. The grants are designed to support new and existing community projects around the Garden City, usually charities and social enterprises, to help build the community as the city grows. This year they generously made a special exception for our school as we had faced so many challenges. We are extremely grateful for the £3K grant and have already invested in equipment for our outdoor learning programme to promote healthy lifestyles and physical development. The new equipment includes a child friendly

greenhouse along with gardening equipment, plants and seeds, a child safe cooker/oven and utensils and science kit - all this will help develop

January 2021

foliage and static wooden equipment for continuous provision of the Early Years curriculum. Our Early Years team constructed a mud kitchen to support creative play, role play and enquiry. A water wall invites children to experiment with volume and capacity and learn how water works: mixing sand, making mud and having fun. Our pupils are out in all weathers. English weather can be unpredictable so our philosophy is, ‘There is no bad weather when we have all-weather clothing!’ The children are free to play together or alone, they understand that learning carries on everywhere, that it’s ok to make mistakes and it’s ok to get muddy.

What resources will be available at the new school site? We are all very much looking forward to moving into our forever-school next autumn! The Ebbsfleet Green building is sustainable and environmentally-friendly, with classrooms positioned in a ‘horseshoe’ around a central courtyard creating an excellent space which is versatile enough for large congregations such as Big Outcomes© events, as well as providing more intimate areas for picnics or simply a quiet place to read or chat with a friend. The classrooms look out onto landscaped grounds. There is a lot to explore in our wild woodland area which has a large pond and dipping deck, and next year we will have a trained Forest School teacher to plan and provide lessons. There are a multitude of natural connections to the curriculum, especially science. The children will have access to investigate nature, play with logs, observe insects and other living things, as well as taking part in cooking outside and activities that allow them to take risks in a safe environment; self manage and build trust and collaboration. Many children who live in towns and cities never get to experience the outdoors in this way; it helps generate respect for the environment and a sense of legacy - encouraging them to think about how we want 17

to leave the world after us. We are also very fortunate to have enough

space for a full size sports pitch for football and games, and a netted MUGA (multi use games area) for other team games and activities, building team spirit and fitness. As we are located centrally within the Maritime network of schools, we will be hosting regular inter-school sports competitions with the other Maritime schools. When we move into the new site we will set

up our child friendly greenhouse and start establishing our allotments ready for our gardening adventures. The children can cook their own produce and experience the whole ‘field to table’ process, learning firsthand about the real world. There is also an outdoor classroom with a gazebo. Learning both indoors and outdoors will be a natural, accepted part of our daily routine. At Ebbsfleet Green outdoor learning is integral

to our curriculum. Our trained staff and resources meet the needs of our children, so they are confident to access all life has to offer. Outdoor learning supports a holistic approach to educating the whole child. It prepares our pupils for the challenges life throws at them, supports healthier lifestyles and wellbeing and nurtures a sense of respect and responsibility for the natural world and its legacy. Understanding, consideration and care for the environment will be some of the greatest challenges that the children face in the future. Outdoor learning creates better citizens.

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