Teachers inspired by New Forest education conference

Teachers learning about wild play at the new forest national park education conference cropped

Published Tuesday 30 June 2015

A conference for teachers on the importance of outdoor learning and ‘wild play’ has been held in the New Forest National Park.

Primary school teachers from nine local schools gathered in Brockenhurst earlier this month (June), sharing ideas on learning outside the classroom and how wild play can help children understand their natural surroundings.

Organised by the New Forest National Park Authority’s education team and teachers from Wiltshire, Dorset and Hampshire, the third annual conference was also designed to help children feel better connected with nature and inspire them to care for the New Forest’s fragile landscapes for years to come. 

It’s part of a programme of lessons and field trips organised by the Authority’s two education officers for more than 5,000 young people over the last academic year.

Tamsin Milroy, a Year 4 teacher at Highcliffe St Mark Primary School in Christchurch, said: ‘As a teacher I’m very focused on the National Curriculum, so learning about things like wild play helps me to think about learning outside of the curriculum.’

Workshop leader Caroline Whittaker, a senior teacher at New Forest Primary School in Nomansland, said: ‘I hope by sharing what we have been doing in our school with other teachers it will inspire them to try more outdoor learning rather than always staying in the classroom, as this makes a real impact on children’s learning.'

The teachers took part in a number of workshops and activities including ‘Wild Writing’, using the outdoors to enable children to succeed at writing, and ‘Forest Fridays’, when a class goes out for weekly lesson in the New Forest. 

Sue Palma, the Authority’s Lead Education Officer, said: ‘The New Forest National Park is a special place and what better way to keep it special than by inspiring children to learn about and appreciate its rare plants and animals. Their enthusiasm for the wonders of the Forest stays with them as they grow older, helping ensure a sustainable future for the National Park.’

Geography consultant Jeff Stanfield, who spoke at the education conference, said: ‘Today children and young people grow up in an increasingly virtual world of iPads, mobile phones and computer games. A very significant number have little opportunity for exploring and developing understanding of the “great outdoors”. 

‘We have a duty to inspire them and engender curiosity. The inspiring landscapes of the New Forest provide a rich and truly cross curricular resource to support lifelong teaching and learning. Failure to inspire children and young people through the environment is not an option.’

Secondary age pupils from local schools will be attending their own ‘Our Forest Our Future’ conference on 10 July, supported by the New Forest Association and hosted by the National Park Authority. 

To request free resources or assistance with a field trip to the New Forest please email education@newforestnpa.gov.uk.

-ends-

Picture caption: Teachers learning about 'wild play' at the New Forest National Park education conference.

About the New Forest National Park Authority

Protect - Enjoy - Prosper

The New Forest National Park Authority’s statutory purposes are to:

  • Conserve and enhance the natural beauty, wildlife and cultural heritage of the Park - Protect.
  • Promote opportunities for understanding and enjoyment of its special qualities – Enjoy.

We also have a duty to:

  • Seek to foster the social and economic well-being of local communities within the Park – Prosper.

The New Forest National Park was designated in March 2005. Its unique landscape has been shaped over the centuries by grazing ponies, cattle and pigs which roam free. Majestic woodlands, rare heathland and a spectacular coastline provide fabulous opportunities for quiet recreation, enjoyment and discovery.

Visit www.newforestnpa.gov.uk to find out more.

Media Contacts:
Sion Donovan, Communications Officer, New Forest National Park Authority
Tel: 01590 646639
Email: sion.donovan@newforestnpa.gov.uk

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