Creating an early years outside learning area
We are a primary school currently with 186 children, located in Colnbrook, Slough the 7th most deprived ward in Slough (out of 14 Wards) with 22.5% of children in our area, and neighbouring Poyle, at risk of living in poverty (an increase from 20.9% in the previous year) and the likelihood that COVID-19 has had a detrimental effect and increased deprivation further we want to do everything we can to support our children and families.
The impact of Covid has been felt by everyone in our school community and we are very aware that many of our children and families have spent extended periods of time inside their homes, which for many of our families are small and cramped with little if any outside space. This, in addition to the fact our school is located under the Heathrow flight path and alongside a large haulage company, is why we wish to counteract the damaging effects of the local environment as much as we can and offer the children an exciting, interesting, motivating, welcoming outside space, with opportunity for them to play, exercise, learn and develop - a haven for wildlife and nature.
We have applied to the Innovation Fund to support the creation of our Early Years Foundation Stage outside area, planned to encourage diversity of wildlife and nature and provide lots of opportunities for children to develop their physical health and mental well- being.
We already do a lot of work with the children and families around healthy eating and good oral health but would like to be able to expand this creating:
- A digging area, vegetable patch and herb garden
- A quiet mindfulness area that will encourage children to pay attention to the present moment and will help to develop skills of self - regulation and emotional wellbeing
- Climbing equipment to develop the children’s gross motor skills and proprioception development
- Communication friendly spaces for children to talk, socialise and connect with others
- A water wall to provide opportunity to develop gross and fine motor skills and an understanding of the world around them
Due to the fact we already have a large sheltered area, this area will be able to be used in all weathers and we are hoping that the newly developed outside space will provide a Covid -safe space for groups to meet so that we can hold parents meetings, provide parent and carer support and information sessions run by ourselves and also external agencies such as the oral health team, local library service and community support officers etc.
We are hoping that eventually the space will be used by community groups such as rainbows and beavers. We could also have parent and child groups meet during the school holidays, which is often a time that parents struggle with their mental health.
At the moment our outside space is very tired and lacking in resources - the school budget will only stretch so far, but the Innovation Fund is making our plans more possible and we look forward to sharing our progress with you.