Emptying our classrooms – in a good way!

On Friday 5th July 2013 schools all over the country will be learning outside for Empty Classroom Day.

Empty Classroom Day is the day to celebrate all the learning outside the classroom that takes place and to encourage even more. The day was created by schools and organisations at London Sustainable Schools Forum and the idea is simple: One day. One Lesson. One aim. LEARN OUTSIDE THE CLASSROOM

Last year, despite the rain, over a hundred other schools took part with activities ranging from planting wildflowers, bug hunting and pond-dipping to inspiring visits to places. The first Empty Classroom Day was a success showing once again that learning outside can be fun, memorable and healthy. This year lots of schools have already signed up and Broadfields Primary School in Barnet are going have every class helping out in their eco garden over the course of the day. Priory School in Croydon are visiting two city farms and having a picnic on Wandsworth Common.

Outdoor learning has been shown in a number of studies to benefit both students and teachers in a variety of ways. Growing Schools has collected together some key papers researching the effects on learning “in the living environment” and summarise some of the findings as creating more relevant and exciting ways of learning, particularly of benefit to students who struggle in the classroom. More motivated students enriches the teaching experience, with teachers’ skills and subject knowledge are broadened and deepened.  By taking on these approaches schools can raise their students’ achievements and create a wider understanding of issues such as healthy eating, sustainability and caring for the environment. 

This year Empty Classroom Day has gone national and we are aiming to get 1000 schools to take part, the suggested theme is “from tiny seed to tasty mouthful”. Many organisations from the London Wildlife Trust, FACE to the Eden Project are supporting the day with resources and special offers for schools. Pupils could be doing anything from planting and gardening, to cooking and having picnics, to making art on city farms. Schools interested in taking part sign up at http://www.is.gd/emptyclassroomday

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