Outdoor Learning

The value of outdoor learning is well recognised at Dore Primary School and is seen as one of the key drivers in the delivery of our exceptional curriculum. Research evidence is overwhelmingly clear about the positive links made between outdoor learning and the progress of children in all aspects of learning and the development of core values.

The Dore Primary School outdoor learning programme aims to foster self-esteem, independence, resilience, co-operation, personal responsibility, autonomy and motivation, as well as a deeply personal knowledge, respect and care for our environment and the ability to assess risk. 

Our approach is learner-led, play-centred, holistic and experiential. When taking part in outdoor learning children are engaging with nature in wild spaces in an exploratory, sensory and physical way. We believe it’s important to create, where possible, a long-term relationship between a location and a group of participants – giving all participants a chance to get a feel for how an environment changes over time.  We believe everybody should have regular, long-term access to a woodland or natural environment which provides them with inspirational and challenging outdoor learning opportunities.

Children are encouraged to take constructive risks in order to develop skills, good judgement and to learn and develop through managing their own and others’ risks. In planning activities we consider not only the risks but also the potential benefits for the learner. 

Learning outside the classroom is highly motivating. Learning in the school grounds, the locality, visiting sites further afield and residential experiences all stimulate interest, curiosity and passion for ‘doing’. These activities broaden young people’s horizons, enable them to develop new skills and build relationships. They make young people more engaged with learning and therefore more likely to do well. We are supported with our delivery by being a full member of the Learning Outside the Classroom (LOtC) organisation.

Our teachers plan outdoor learning opportunities across the curriculum and utilise our extensive grounds and facilities in order to maximise the impact of these experiences. Our learning continues far past our gates and fences with regular trips offsite beginning in the Foundation Stage with walks into the local community. Experiences continue throughout the school and further afield across all year groups which both complement and add great value to the excellent teaching and learning in our classrooms.

Core Values and Outdoor Learning

Outdoor learning at Dore Primary School allows us the opportunity to develop our Core Values of Resilience, Kindness, Resourcefulness and Creativity. So many of our activities, trips and residentials naturally lend themselves to social and personal growth as outlined below:

In 2015, Ofsted announced that the new common inspection framework would include a judgement on ‘personal development, behaviour and welfare’. Learning outside the classroom can offer significant support to schools’ delivery of this area of the framework.

Forest School

We have further embedded our commitment to outdoor learning by developing the Forest School approach to learning across the whole-school. Four members of staff have undergone Level 3 Forest School Practitioner training, and back in school have shared their expertise with other staff members.

Our activities depend on the ability and experience of participants. Examples of Forest School activities include:

• Woodland management and nature exploration
• Building dens and other structures
• Fires and cooking
• Games and invitations for imaginative play
• Natural crafts
• Using tools, such as knives and saws
• Scavenger hunts and adventure
• Seasonal celebrations


Outdoor Learning News:

  • Pre-School Spring 2 Week 5 Eggs!
    We’ve been reading the book ‘We’re going on an egg hunt’ (very similar idea to we’re going on a bear hunt!). We’ve been on a few egg hunts, told the story using the PE equipment to help and been creating our own beautiful eggs.
  • Year 3 Creswell Crags 2023
    To really immerse ourselves in our ‘Mists of Time’ learning journey, Year 3 took a trip to the Stone Age site of Creswell Crags. Although there were threats of a return of an Ice Age, we had a super day experiencing both life in the Stone Age and working as a palaeontologist. The children could […]
  • FS2 Elder Bead Caterpillars
    The children demonstrated such resilience this week as we learnt how to use a new tool – the hack saw. After listening to the story of The Very Hungry Caterpillar, we decided to make our own caterpillars using sticks of Elder. The children learnt how to saw the wood into small pieces and then remove […]
  • FS2 Jack and the Beanstalk
    We included a bit of drama in our outdoor learning this week! Off we went onto the school grounds where we re-told the story of Jack and the Beanstalk. Some of the children took on different roles from the story while others were very entertained as the audience. The children thoroughly enjoyed ‘climbing the beanstalk’, […]
  • FS2, Jack and the Beanstalk
    The children have been incredible actresses and actors in outdoor learning this week. They took on different roles in the story of Jack and the Beanstalk. Those who acted, spoke with such enjoyment and confidence, and those who watched made a fantastic and enthusiastic audience. After our play, the children all planted their own broad […]
  • FS2 Bear Hunt Den Building
    In outdoor learning this week, the children recalled the story of ‘We’re Going on a Bear Hunt’. They told it with such confidence and enjoyment! Next we went on a teddy bear hunt, but there was a problem…the bears needed dens! So off we went with our loppers to chop some branches down to layer […]
  • Y1
    Y1 have been exploring the outdoor area of learning.
  • Y6 – Tree Planting at Green Oak Recreation Ground
    As part of our ‘Into the Wild’ topic, Year 6 children have been learning about how important trees are for biodiversity as well as a means to combat climate change. To help develop green spaces in the local community, Year 6 children have planted trees, both as whips as well as from seeds, at Green […]
  • FS2 We’re Going on a Bear Hunt
    Today, the children went on a very exciting bear hunt! We went through some long wavy grass, thick oozy mud, a deep cold river, a deep dark forest, a swirling whirling snowstorm and tip-toed through a narrow gloomy cave…only to find a BEAR! Luckily, the bear was friendly and we asked it lots of questions […]
  • FS2 Bird watching
    This week in outdoor learning, the children put their looking and listening skills to the test and they were…amazing! Knowing just how important it was to keep still and quiet, we gathered outside and the bird watching began. Well, we saw….crows, pigeons, blackbirds, blue tits, magpies and sparrows! We returned to the classroom to make […]
  • FS2 The Tomten and the Fox
    In outdoor learning this week, the children listened to the story of the Tomten and the Fox – a Scandinavian tale of a hungry fox in search of food in winter. Luckily for him, a kind Tomten (Scandinavian troll) who guards the farm at night was on watch and shared his bowl of warm porridge […]
  • FS2 – Walk in Dore Village
    We had a slightly soggy but enjoyable morning being Geographers and having an explore of our local surroundings and visiting Dore Village to look and landuse and see what types of services were available there. We were impressed with how well the children behaved on the walk and how much they listened and observed about […]
  • Y1 Outdoor Learning
    The children created ice pendants today using natural materials. Unfortunately the temperature isn’t going to drop below 9 degrees tonight, so we’ve opted for the freezer instead!
  • Y4 Winter Walk
    To end an excellent first term in Y4, we spent our penultimate day before the Christmas holiday undertaking a 10 kilometre walk from school, up to Totley Moss and Blacka Moor, then back to school. As you can see, the views were amazing as the sky was crystal clear, and we kept warm all day […]
  • Y4 Portal Stories
    Y4 have spent a great deal of care, time and effort creating these amazing stories. First we read about different examples of ‘portal story’, including The Lion the Witch and the Wardrobe and The Phantom Tollbooth. We worked out that mostly portal stories start with someone who isn’t happy with their everyday life (just like […]
  • Y6 Winter Walk
    With a focus on our curriculum driver of Outdoor Learning, as well as, for some children, our school value of Resilience, Year 6 excelled themselves in completing our annual Winter Walk. Conditions this year were snowy and bright, making for a perfect day to appreciate the beauty of the moorland in winter.
  • Y3 Polar Shelter building
    Inspired by the intrepid explorers we have been learning about and the Inuit people who have lived in the Arctic for thousands of years (also Mr Fletcher!), Year 3s worked in teams to build a shelter to survive the harsh polar climates!
  • Y2 – Sheltering from the December weather
  • FS2 Winter Lanterns
    In outdoor learning this week the children collected leaves from the school grounds. We searched for freshly fallen leaves because we needed them for decoration. The children identified which leaves they liked and why. Next the children found a jar with their name on and we took everything back to the warmth of our classroom. […]
  • FS2 Winter Tidy Up!
    This week the children and I decided it was time to have a good winter tidy up outside. This involved scrubbing and cleaning the area, and working as a team to put things away. The children then came up with their own ideas about what they would like the space to look like. Children drew […]