Green Heart – Outdoor and Environmental Education at the Coombes
A green renaissance is happening at the Coombes, as we put ecology and the environment back, centre-stage of our offer for all children. We have a vision that every child should leave The Coombes with a love of the outdoors and the natural world, and the skills and knowledge to care for it. If any school has the environment to make this vision a reality it’s The Coombes!
We want to make the most of the amazing school site that we have all inherited, to manage it as an educational resource, to improve it for bio-diversity; to care for it, for its own sake and for our own.
As we say at The Coombes, “A love of learning grows here.” And at the “green heart” of this, is a love of learning about all the other things that grow here too!
There are three key blocks to our Green Heart initiative: Forest School, Environmental Education and taught Horticulture sessions. These sessions will be timetabled across the children’s time at the Coombes – sequenced so that the children’s skills and understanding builds over time. We are in the process of developing a Green Heart Eco-Lodge to provide a hub for all these activities, and we are working with colleagues across the school curriculum to bring other lessons outdoors too.
Forest School is a child-centred inspirational learning process, that offers opportunities for holistic growth through regular outdoor sessions. It supports play, exploration and supported risk taking. It develops confidence and self-esteem through learner inspired, hands-on experiences in nature. We will provide these sessions in our amazing on-site woodland. Forest school goes on whatever the weather (almost), throughout the year: children learn about themselves, working with others, and the flora and fauna that we share our site with. Over time, the sessions will help children to learn the intrinsic value of being in a natural environment and develop strategies to help themselves and nature thrive. All sessions will be led by a qualified Forest School leader, accredited by the Forest School Association.
Tales of environmental woe are all around us but our focus will very much be that of what we can all do together to make things better. Children will participate in investigative projects that explore the need for us all to move from sustainability to regeneration. They will build an awareness and knowledge of many of the environmental challenges that we all face, develop the attitude and skills to tackle these, and participate in practical projects that address them. These projects will include Bio-Diversity, Energy, Global Citizenship, Healthy Living, Litter, Marine, School-Grounds, Water, Waste and Transport.
As children move through the school they will have physical opportunities to grow and flourish through taught, progressive, skills-based horticulture sessions. Working in our Eco-Lodge garden and other school garden areas, children will develop the skills to care for soil and plants, to grow their own food, and to make choices about what and when to grow, considering the overarching importance of seasonality.
We are working with a number of partners to develop and refine our Green Heart provision. These include The Forest School Association, Hill End Outdoor Education Centre, Learning through Landscapes, The Royal Horticultural Society, Eco-Schools and Arborfield Cubs and Scouts.
Green Heart at the Centre of our School Community
Thank you to all the organisations that have supported us on our journey so far: The Coombes PTA, Learning through Landscapes, The Woodland Trust, Arborfield Cubs and Scouts, Arborfield Parish Council and Arborfield Tree Care.
Outdoor and Environmental Education Lead: Mr Geoff Stoves