Anne Everest - Head's Message 11-09
Our journey towards learning more about the environment started with the fateful question, “Does a worm’s pooh smell?” This and other similarly searching primary school questions were addressed during the construction of our Fantastical Forest, the outdoor classroom at St George’s School for Girls.
What started as a partnership idea between our Nursery and that of Gylemuir Primary School swiftly developed into an all-singing, all-dancing inter-disciplinary activity that continues to give pleasure and learning opportunities almost five years after the children helped to develop a muddy patch of waste land and turn it into a learning space, complete with a path, planting, seating, hiding places and totem pole.
Seeing one of our junior school teachers calmly pluck a leaf from a stinging nettle, fold it twice and eat it, in front of a packed hall of parents at a recent Welcome Evening dramatically emphasised the combination of adventure and learning that our outdoor learning programme encourages. (This was a nettle that this teacher had ostentatiously treated with respect a few minutes earlier, when she had gingerly lifted it with her thickly gloved hand!)
All our students are encouraged to consider their environment and learn from it, either through the curriculum or through clubs and activities related to ecology. Our older girls have turned off the lights, the ‘phones and the tablets for a day, made a film, composed “environmental songs” and involved every academic department in eco learning; our P6-7s have grown their own vegetables and linked up with a school in Bangalore to undertake a project on wildlife, while our younger children have opened a bug hotel, studied a giant snail named Gloria and investigated which is the world’s smelliest plant.
So our little girls in particular have all learned that one of the great things about outdoor learning and all stuff ecological is that you get the smells, both pleasant and whiffy, of everything you encounter outside!
Anne C Everest
Head, St George's School for Girls