Taking learning outside classroom

With its safe parkland campus and proximity to the beach in Dunbar, outdoor education has always been part of Belhaven Hill’s all-round ethos.

By The Newsroom
Saturday, 8th March 2014, 4:40 am
Belhaven Hill School in Dunbar taking teaching outside the classroom
Belhaven Hill School in Dunbar taking teaching outside the classroom

Building on existing activities, such as Design and Technology, its Conservation Club and Gardening Club, it is a natural progression for Outdoor Education to become a more integral part of the school curriculum while still focusing on providing an excellent academic education with plenty of sport and extra-curricular activities.

“Outdoor Education for many people conjures up visions of outward bounds, lighting fires and bush craft. While these are part of teaching at Belhaven, our vision of Outdoor Education is more about promoting a rounded approach to teaching with learning outside the classroom playing a key role,” says Innes MacAskill, Belhaven’s headmaster.

Peter Bailey, Belhaven’s recently appointed teacher for Outdoor Education, added: “Taking a group of eight year olds outside to dig soil with their hands led to discussion about the types of soil available, and produced a rich array of adjectives to turn into poetry and prose for classroom work. In History, we’ve looked at the school buildings and related them to events in the school’s past, or simply asked ‘What have those trees seen in their life?’

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“Given Belhaven’s beautiful grounds, nearby beaches, and ever changing climate, building an enquiring appreciation of the environment is a natural evolution for the school’s curriculum. Adding these elements into Belhaven’s strong educational foundations is an exciting journey.

“We’re planning a phenology project to record the changing seasons with observations and photographs of the same trees and plants taken every week to track the changes Combined with a weather station, this will provide a powerful resource for Belhaven students to observe and record changing seasons in a ‘school life diary’.

The John Muir Trust in Dunbar also encourages Outdoor Education and states: “We support the term ‘learning for sustainability’ to integrate thinking on sustainable development education, global citizenship and outdoor learning.”