Teachers at Seaton Wetlands learning how to take early years education outdoors

Professional development courses successfully delivered to teachers by the council’s Countryside team

Throughout June East Devon District Council’s Countryside team delivered three professional development courses to 41 Primary School teachers and trainee teachers enrolled in the Devon Primary SCITT (School-centred initial teacher training).

Courses were delivered at Cranbrook Education Campus, using Cranbrook Country Park and at Seaton Wetlands. The training days equipped teachers with a range of active, engaging ideas to use in their school grounds, supporting children’s learning across all areas of the National Curriculum.

The courses included a repeat of last year’s successful Developing young mathematicians outdoors course, delivered in partnership with school improvement advisor and curriculum consultant, David Weatherly.

An additional Outdoor learning in the early years training day provided hands-on activity ideas to inspire outdoor learning for Early Years and KS1 teachers, supporting them to deliver high quality year round outdoor learning in their school or nursery setting.

East Devon’s Education Rangers at Seaton Wetlands were proud to be chosen by the Devon Primary SCITT course, to work in partnership with tutors to deliver the outdoor learning part of the course programme. Student teachers spent the day at Seaton Wetlands learning about the benefits of outdoor learning with course tutors, David Weatherly and Sheena Wright.

Experienced East Devon Education Rangers, Meg Knowles and Penny Evans shared curriculum linked activity ideas with students.

East Devon District Council’s Environment portfolio holder, Cllr Tom Wright, said:

There are many documented health benefits for our children spending time outdoors and learning through experiences in the natural environment. In East Devon we are so fortunate to have outstanding countryside on our doorstep. The courses, delivered by the Education Rangers, support teachers to build skills and confidence, enabling them to take more learning outdoors, making the most of their school grounds or local green space.

David Weatherly, tutor on the SCITT course said:

During the day the trainees were able to reflect professionally on the many ways in which outdoor learning is so important to our youngest learners. They were able to experience first-hand the kind of learning activities, which not only really challenge children intellectually, but also help to develop core social and emotional skills, as well as fostering a love of nature. With its stunning environment and emphasis on sustainability and engagement with people of all ages and backgrounds, Seaton Wetlands was a perfect venue for the day.

East Devon Education Ranger, Meg Knowles, said:

The idea for these professional development courses came about after talking to local teachers about how we could best support them with outdoor learning. Teachers understand the benefits of outdoor learning, but often need more ideas for activities, which they can use to support the curriculum in their school grounds. We had fantastic feedback from teachers attending the days, all of whom said how useful and well organised the days had been and that they were looking forward to being able to use the many ideas covered in the courses back at school.

To find out more about the work of the Education Rangers visit wildeastdevon.co.uk. The Countryside team can be contacted via email: wild@eastdevon.gov.uk and phone: 01395 517557