The university launched its outdoor classroom at the Fusehill Street campus today, Wednesday 7 October, with a special event for children from Brook Street Primary School and Norman Street Primary School.
Dobbie’s Garden Centres have generously provided sponsorship for the classroom in the form of donating brightly coloured plants, bulbs and pond plants.
An outdoor classroom is a learning area which is, as the name implies, outside, allowing children to explore, investigate, learn and develop using a range of specific outdoor resources.
With the aim of enhancing the teaching programmes at the university, creating an outdoor classroom will stimulate the sessions for students and give them first-hand experience of planning, teaching, assessing and learning for classes in this environment.
The outdoor classroom at the university retains as many natural features as possible and incorporates a pond, to encourage the children to experience nature for themselves.
Having access to, and learning in, an outdoor classroom is an essential part of all Early Year’s settings and Primary schools, so it is vital that student teachers can gain such experience before embarking on their first job in the profession.
The students will be more confident at using the outdoor environment, and this will encourage creativity which in turn will benefit the children.
The university also hopes to create even stronger links with local schools, inviting the children to come onto the campus for sessions in the outdoor classroom with the students.
Lisa MacGregor, who is the programme leader for Early Years QTS, explained the cooperation that had led to the development of the outdoor classroom:
“We’ve had enormous help from, and have worked closely with, our estates team, project managed by university estates officer Andrew Senejko. Importantly too, Dobbies Garden Centre at Orton Grange near Carlisle have donated resources for the classroom in support of this project, and we’re very grateful for their sponsorship.”
Hayley Berry, Community Champion of Dobbies in Carlisle said “We are delighted to be working with the University of Cumbria by supporting the students to develop their first outdoor classroom. This will also be beneficial to schools in the local area with which Dobbies works closely on a regular basis. We have donated a variety of colourful plants to attract wildlife, bulbs for lasting colour each year and water plants to brighten up their existing pond.”