Why involve pupils in the planning of your outdoor classroom?
In our experience, the best outdoor classroom projects are those that involve the pupils in the planning process, so it’s really worth considering this when drawing up your budget.
There are lots of reasons why pupil involvement is beneficial to this kind of project:
- They have a very different perspective, and are likely to come up with some great ideas that you wouldn’t have thought of.
- They’ll get a chance to develop a range of skills such as collaboration, problem solving, research and communication (it can also link in with the curriculum, eg design technology).
- It helps generate excitement, engagement, a sense of ownership, pride and ongoing responsibility for the new space.
- You’ll end up with an outdoor classroom or play structure that is truly bespoke and unique.
How we do this:
We can support this participation in various ways and at different stages, depending on the scope of the project, the ages of the pupils, your budget and any other relevant factors or requirements. For example, we can involve the pupils in the initial generation of ideas, the design of specific elements and even aspects of the build itself.
A good example of this kind of work is an ongoing project at Gretton School, where we’ve collaborated really successfully with the pupils to create a well-used outdoor learning space and treehouse. One group of students helped debark the sweet chestnut using traditional draw knifes, another designed perspex window hole shapes in D&T lessons, others concentrated on future plans for the forest school phase of the project.
We love working in this way, and believe that putting users at the heart of the planning process is a sound investment that leads to richer designs and an enhanced experience all round.