Promoting Effective Independent Learning through Quality Outdoor Provision in the Early Years.

Why this is leading practice

Independent learning is a recognised strength of our Early Years Unit (Leading Aspect Award 2011). We have developed this to ensure that this good practice is continued into our outdoor provision. Our approach allows children to use the outdoor area independently thus encouraging them to take responsibility for their own learning. Provision within the outdoors area ensures children are able to access activities linked to the 7 areas of learning.  Our approach based on the High Scope Model of ‘plan-do-review’, allows children to think about their next steps in their learning and to review how they have used the provision.

Impact to date

• Achievement and progress for all early years pupils are good in all 7 areas of the EYFS curriculum and above national average in some areas
• The outdoor area provides new challenges not easily achieved indoors including physical and gross motor skills
• Pupils develop a high level of independence, preparing them for future learning throughout the school
• Both adult led and child initiated activities are well supported by the external environment
• Outdoor activities provide pupils with the opportunity to repeat tasks and reach a higher level of achievement
• Pupils throughout the school, including children in the early years, achieve well. All groups of pupils, including those with SEN, make good progress (Ofsted 2014)
• The early years provides a rich learning environment for children and prepares them well for their continued learning in school. They are keen to learn and happily enjoy everything that is provided for them both in the classroom and outdoors (Ofsted 2014)
• The outdoor provision contains large climbing equipment which is especially beneficial to boys
• New equipment such as  the Woodland House and creatures helps to develop fine motor skills and support pupils struggling with communication and language skills


Rationale / Start Point

We firmly believe that learning and independence can be developed further and challenged through use of quality outdoor provision. The skills the children learn, e.gproblem solving, taking responsibility and decision making, are enhanced and provide the basis from which later learning and skills develop.
Children are given the space to explore and investigate, to work in groups as well as independently and to develop important physical skills. We value the impact our outdoor provision has on the development of the children and are aware of how these skills play an important role as the children leave our unit.

Key Strategies

High quality learning through outdoor play achieved through the following key strategies:
• An expectation of high standards in EYFS  curriculum for outside education through continual review and development
• Continual discussion between headteacher and early years staff to ensure high quality provision
• Planning for the outdoor curriculum includes a balance between adult led and child initiated learning
• Focus on individual pupils to plan ‘next step progression’
• High Scope used to encourage independent learning in a safe environment
• Pupils encouraged to review own progress through ‘Circle Time’
• High quality resources to stimulate imaginative play and areas such as the ‘Mud Kitchen’
• High quality CPD for all Early Years staff disseminated to all in EYFS
• Liaison with other places of learning in order to develop ideas for outdoor learning
• Parental support well trained in using outdoor equipment and resources
• Outdoor area used to provide experiences not possible indoors
• Care for the outdoors developed, for example  through Art and Gardening Club


Sustainability and Further Development

• 7 areas of learning form a good basis for future learning
• Pupils work independently or co-operatively as they will through-out the school
• They care for others eg. if a child is hurt they immediately report the accident to an adult
• Various themes are studied by all pupils throughout the school so young children learn to work  holistically
• Future plans for the outside area include:
? Resurfacing an area so traditional number games can be painted such as hopscotch
? Parking bays for the children’s bikes
? Play house and enchanted house built to support communication and language skills
? Permanent climbing frame
? Permanent water tray

Lead Establishment

Langwathby CE School
Salkeld Road
CA10 1ND
01768 881295
Headteacher / Manager
Lesley Birtwell
DCSF Number
909 3021
Local Authority
Phase of Education
Early Years, Primary
Type and Status of Provider
Local Authority
Awards and Initiatives
Inclusion Charter Mark International Schools Award Kidsafe School

Published: 10 May 2015
Expires: 10 May 2018

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