Year Six Visit published in the NAEE magazine
Martineau Gardens Visit September 2016-10-06
Chandos Primary is situated close to the centre of Birmingham, set amongst industrial units and social housing. Our intake has a high proportion of EAL and pupils in receipt of free school meals. Despite being within a city with an abundance of parks and green spaces our pupils rarely visit them. We strive to enrich the life of our pupils by ensuring every child accesses a quality out of school visit at least twice each academic year.
On applying for the Hugh Kendrick grant, it was realised that we had Martineau Gardens almost directly on our doorstep. We decided to put this at the top of our list, partly due to curiosity. Initial contact was friendly and efficient, with a plan for our Year Six classes developing over the telephone. Further information duly arrived by email.
We used the visit as a pre-teaching experience for our topic based on Evolution and Adaptation. On arrival, the classes were split into groups for a range of activities.
One group sorted and categorised living things whilst sitting under a canopy of overhanging branches. A few gaps in learning were revealed, when two children explained why they had placed a bird with mammals, “the bird has fur like the badger.” A note was taken to continue this conversation back at school. A walk through the woods saw the children naming trees by identifying their leaves using a flow-chart provided by the gardens.
The second group experienced planting in the greenhouse and tasting a variety of freshly picked herbs and vegetables from the allotment area. “I don’t like veg, but this is really nice!” was heard on more than one occasion. The children were fascinated by the wormery and quite a few were eager to feel the compost and hold a worm. It was decided, on the spot, that this would be a purchase the school would make as soon as possible.
We have developed growing areas in school, which have seen a variety of vegetables and fruit being cultivated. This visit has fired up the children’s enthusiasm to get back to the gardens and to clear out the old plants and to start growing varieties of plants they had tasted that day.
We view our Year Sixes as being the most experienced pupils within the school. However, this visit revealed that we as educators must do so much more to extend the learning experience to outside the classroom and enrich the lives of the children. A simple walk through a wooded area was almost alien to them. To see older children hugging trees was quite moving. They were amazed at how the light filtered through the branches and to see leaves sailing down from the sky to the floor. One child commented that, “This is a magical place…like Narnia off the telly.”
Although we covered the planned learning (Carl Linneus and the categorisation of living things) the trip was more valuable in revealing to us teachers that outdoor learning does play an important part in the experiences of all children. We now plan to improve our school grounds and increase the opportunities for further learning outdoors.