NATURAL Resources Wales (NRW) is working with Flintshire County Council to increase outdoor learning opportunities for learners across the county.

It's part of an initiative by the council to provide training for schoolteachers so they can increase the amount of time spent learning in, about and for the natural environment.

Outdoor learning is advocated by the Welsh Government as a key approach to delivering the new Curriculum for Wales. It is also widely recognised for its significant health and wellbeing benefits.

Initial research by Flintshire County Council’s Education team suggests that, currently, Foundation Phase pupils (3-7 year olds) in the county spend around 30 per cent of their time in outdoor spaces adjacent to their classes, whilst Key Stage 2 learners (7-11 year olds) spend about 10 per cent of their time on outdoor activities.

The council has partnered with NRW to help achieve the aim of increasing the amount of outdoor learning that is delivered by schools in the county, especially amongst 7-11 year olds.

Jane Borthwick, senior learning adviser at Flintshire County Council, said: “We have added a bespoke target to our annual business plan to support our schools to increase outdoor learning.

“We know there is very good practice in delivery of the forest school approach in the county and that schools do focus on outdoor learning through focused days and sessions.

"Our aim is to equip more practitioners across more schools to be able to provide learning in the outdoors as a natural element of the curriculum."

The first session was held on Monday (8 November) with another planned for Friday (12 November), involving 41 teachers from across the county.

Sue Williams, NRW team leader for health, education and natural Resources said: “We really commend Flintshire County Council on its county-wide approach to outdoor learning.

“The Welsh Government’s guidance on the new Curriculum for Wales states that there should be parity between indoor and outdoor learning. Using evidence from their schools’ survey, it’s great to see the council act proactively to increase how much learning is done outdoors to bring it closer to the amount of time spent in the classroom.

“We’ve designed our sessions to be as interactive and hands on as possible in a way that gives teachers the motivation and the tools to be able to deliver more learning experiences in an outdoor setting and help establish pro-environmental behaviours from a young age.”