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Newport OLW Network Group has about 20 members including teachers, representatives from the local authority, Gwent Wildlife Trust and Natural Resources Wales. Set up in 2002, one of the group’s original aims was to create links between Duffryn Infants School and the local community through the development of Forest School.
The group now meets once a term with meetings being hosted by different group members. These meetings provide a great opportunity to network and share ideas linked to the use of the outdoors as a learning resource. Forest School, and any upcoming courses are discussed as are other training opportunities or events available to the group.
Since the change from FEI to Outdoor Learning Wales, the group has seen significant changes in their ethos to teaching outdoors. With still some focus on Forest school, the group now supports a wide range of teachers and outdoor providers that aim to get children outdoors through taking the classroom outside for everyday lessons, not just forest schools.
Each year the group can apply for a small OLW grant to fund small projects or training courses and also there is the chance to apply for a larger fund to develop bigger project ideas. 2014 had seen the group use their grant to run a teacher training activity at Tredegar House which was held on 21st November 2014.
The group has completed a project to create bi-lingual learning activities and tool cards to accompany 3 banks of tools for available for group members to borrow. The tool banks contain lots of different tools and equipment for use with children during a Forest School session such as secateurs, bowsaws, potato peelers as well as a fire wok, skillet and tarpaulins. They will be loaned out from 3 host schools and available for use by anyone from the OLW network group.
With access to the large grant, which was used to fund the bi-lingual tool cards, the group decided to create a resource pack for outdoor learning with direct links to the Literacy and Numeracy Framework. The idea came from the group members who were finding that other teachers in school may not have felt as confident as them when going outdoors, and so we came up with a Reception to year 6 acvitiy pack covering a variety of themes and topics, so that all teachers can take it outside and get more and more children outdoors everyday! The pack is called 'Raising Standards through Outdoor Learning for All key stages' and can be found under the 'Downloads' tab above.
Local teachers and others with an interest in links between the outdoors and education or in Forest School, are welcome to become involved in the Newport OLW Network Group.
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