Learning Outside The Classroom At Belmont Grosvenor
Belmont Grosvenor School is an ‘outstanding’ and ‘excellent’ (Independent Schools Inspectorate 2018) co-educational, independent prep-school set in 20-acres of grounds which, along with its Magic Tree Nursery, cares for children from three months to 11 years
When we think of school, the traditional image of a teacher standing at the front of a class, with pupils sitting neatly and uniformly at their desks, might spring to mind.
But over the years, as we know, teaching methods and styles have evolved – and decades of research has shown that children learn best through a wide range of varied and interactive styles.
Here at Belmont Grosvenor School, a stand-alone co-educational prep school, we embrace this ethos – and try to make the most of our wonderful setting in 20-acres of stunning grounds on the edge of the Yorkshire Dales.
We are delighted to have recently become the only school in the region to have been recognised by the Learning Outside the Classroom (LOtC) Council and presented with a Silver Award for using our outdoor space, buildings and environment so well.
The award also recognises how we enhance our pupils’ outdoor learning with interesting clubs, trips and visits.
LOtC is at the heart of all we do here at BGS and Magic Tree Nursery – whether it’s staging productions in our outdoor classroom, taking a maths lesson outside to check angles and measurements, or simply listening to stories in a different part of the school building or grounds.
We are extremely proud and honoured that our outdoor learning has been recognised by the LOtC Council.
Our pupils from Pre Reception to Year 4, enjoy Forest School sessions as part of our curriculum. Forest School introduces a whole new dimension to teaching and learning – offering new experiences for both our pupils and teachers.
In our special Forest School woodland area, pupils are encouraged to take risks and try new challenges – in weekly timetabled sessions they enjoy a wide variety of Forest School activities designed to help grow their confidence, and self-esteem.
These can include constructing dens, weaving willow, climbing trees and making woodland art, as well as building campfires, all carried out at BGS under the expert guidance of our Forest School co-ordinator Nick Wield.
Whatever the weather (the muddier the better for many!) Forest School is exciting for the children, who are free to explore the environment around them using all of their senses. But don’t think that Forest School is just about running around the woods and having fun! Forest School is designed to enhance a child’s development.
Many of the activities are child-led, and follow the direction in which children choose to take them. Forest School allows them to let their imaginations and creativity run wild. A child could decide to work on his own, which can help developing his problem-solving and creativity, or join a team, and learn how to work as a group, share ideas and listen to others.
It goes without saying that Forest School helps promote a healthier lifestyle for children, enabling them to physically active, enjoy the fresh air and the new experiences the outdoors can offer. In terms of emotional development, a child’s confidence will grow significantly through taking part in Forest School and this confidence can then be carried into other areas of their lives.
Some children who struggle to work within a classroom often shine within Forest School. Children start to move away from their traditional class-based friendship groups and appreciate others’ strengths and support those who may not find practical skills easy.
Finally, once a term, lessons for our Prep pupils are suspended for Enrichment Afternoons, where pupils experience a range of mostly-outdoor challenges in mixed-aged groups, helping develop collaboration and co-operation through team building and problem-solving activities.
For more information about our ‘excellent’ and ‘outstanding’ school or to arrange a visit, please visit our website at www.belmontgrosvenor.co.uk. or call 01423 771029.
By Sophia Ashworth Jones Headmistress Belmont Grosvenor School Swarcliffe Hall Birstwith Harrogate HG3 2JG