Pictured are children from local schools taking part in outdoor activities.

Co-ordinated by East Devon District’s Countryside Education Team

Teachers and teaching assistants from all eight primary schools in Exmouth met at Exeter Road Community Primary School in the first meeting of many, as part of an exciting project which aims to support schools in developing their outdoor learning.

The Naturally Healthy Devon Schools Project is the largest outdoor learning project in the UK and has been running since October 2012. It’s part of a larger Natural Connections Demonstration Project, being delivered by Plymouth University on behalf of the Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs (DEFRA),  Natural England and English Heritage.

The East Devon project is funded by Natural England, the Devon Local Nature Partnership, Devon County Council and CPRE Devon and is being coordinated by East Devon District Council’s Countryside Education team.

Alex Turner, Education Ranger for East Devon District Council said:

Outdoor learning has so many benefits in terms of bringing studies to life, encouraging respect of the environment and improving the health and well-being of children.

Exmouth schools are already doing some great work in terms of using their local environment, and this is a fantastic opportunity for teaching staff to share stories, get ideas and receive training on how to further develop the outdoor learning experiences of children at their schools.

The meeting heard from Paul Martin of Devon Wildlife Trust who gave an inspiring talk about his work with Devon schools, and included a tour of Exeter Road Community Primary School’s grounds and introduction to their outdoor learning staff.

Paul Gosling, the school’s head teacher, said:

Learning outside of the classroom is something that our school is very committed to and we look forward to sharing our good practice and learning new skills.

The two-year project will offer teaching staff professional development, advice, funding, networking and opportunities to observe best practice. 

Cllr Iain Chubb, East Devon District Council’s Cabinet Member for the Environment, said:

We’re proud as a district council to be supporting schools to use the outstanding East Devon environment, and to partner with other authorities to help young people learn about their countryside.

Other schools in the East Devon area are invited to get involved in the project. Please get in touch with education@eastdevon.gov.uk  for further details.