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Outdoor Learning


At Palfrey Infant School our aim is to encourage and inspire children through positive outdoor experiences in the Early Years. Children will have the opportunity to learn about the natural environment, how to handle risks in a controlled way and most importantly to use their own initiative to solve problems and co-operate with others.

They will learn to:

  • initiate, investigate and maintain curiosity in the world around them.
  • use basic tools,  
  • learn boundaries of behaviour; both physical and social,
  • establish and grow in confidence, self-esteem and become self-motivated.

The progression from Nursery to Reception allows for the children to build on previous learning and develop new skills. This is underpinned with the adult repeating the same safety rules, identifying boundaries, emphasising the importance of safety and making links to learning new skills to their everyday lives.


We aim to give all children a collective insight into the ethos of Outdoor Learning, the learning environment will:

  • provide real life opportunities and create independent learners
  • Enhance children’s communication skills and ability to work as a team
  • Develop a growing awareness of their emotional needs and the needs of others to enable them to form positive relationships
  • Nurture self-esteem and self-confidence
  • Develop healthier bodies
  • Teach resilience and risk taking and make choices
  • Equip children with love and respect for the outdoors and the natural world through play
  • learn to cooperate and work with their peers and adults and to develop strategies in order to take risks within the boundaries of safety.

Outdoor Learning is about exploring and experiencing the natural world through practical activities. The children go out in all weathers, all year round, exploring and learning from the seasons and environment changes. Appropriate clothing will be worn and during high winds it will be considered unsafe to go into the Outdoor Area. The children’s interests along with the varied natural resources in our outdoor area are used to stimulate creative thinking, problem-solving and skill development. One of the principles of Outdoor Learning is to promote environmental awareness. The children are taught about respect and responsibility for the world around them. Both the children and adults are encouraged to respect their environment. The aim is to promote respect for wildlife. Encouraging children to care for the environment is an essential part of Outdoor Learning. In order to encourage the children to look after the site we will always leave it tidy and never damage anything growing in it.


The success of outdoor learning at Palfrey allows the children to: Grow in confidence as a result of the freedom, time and space they are given in their learning. This allows them to demonstrate independence at each individual child’s rate. Activities such as participating in play and tasks teach the children to work together as a group, which strengthens their bonds and social skills. The sensory experiences provided by Outdoor Learning helps prompt language development. Improving communication skills having a positive effect on a child’s self-esteem which is a crucial part of their development. High levels of interest lead to high levels of attention. Spending time in the outdoor area is exciting for a child and tends to fascinate them which develops a strong will to participate and concentrate over long periods of time. The increase in outdoor activity also has a positive physical impact. Not only does the development of physical stamina improve but also gross and fine motor skills. Children develop an interest in the great outdoors and respect for the environment. Encouraging children to develop a relationship with the natural world will help in protecting the environment for generations to come. Outdoor Learning isn’t just beneficial to children it is also beneficial to teachers. Observing their class in a different setting allows them to gain a new perspective and understanding of their class. The adult can play a role of just observing, coming along side, modelling, supporting or encouraging. When children really engage with Outdoor Learning they will take their experiences home to share with friends and family. This will often encourage families to visit their local woodlands more frequently. Taking children outside of the classroom removes the pressures of academia and allows them to play to their strengths. This can be beneficial to SEND children and children who struggle in the classroom because there is more of an opportunity for them to learn and explore at their own pace. The review time at the end of each session allows time for this self-reflection and for all children to share their successes. 

We measure the impact of our curriculum at Palfrey through floor books with photographs of the children’s practical learning and talking to the children about their learning during reflection (pupil voice).  Photographs are also included on the school website so parents and other adults can see the images and videos.