Friday 5th July 2013 is Empty Classroom Day!
Guest post by Zoë Slade.
On Friday 5 July 2013 schools all over the country will be learning outside for Empty Classroom Day.
Empty Classroom Day is a day to celebrate all the learning that takes place outside the classroom and to encourage even more outdoor learning. The day was created by schools and organisations at London Sustainable Schools Forum and the idea is simple: One class, outdoors, for one lesson on one day.
Last year, despite the rain, over one hundred schools took part with activities ranging from planting wildflowers, bug hunting and pond-dipping to inspiring class visits to the great outdoors. The first Empty Classroom Day was a success showing that learning outside can be fun, memorable and healthy. This year lots of schools have signed up to say that one class will be learning outside for one lesson on Friday 5 July, some schools are doing even more. Broadfields Primary School in Barnet is going have every class helping out in their eco garden over the course of the day. Priory School in Croydon is visiting two city farms and having a picnic on Wandsworth Common.
Outdoor learning has been shown to benefit both students and teachers in a variety of ways. Growing Schools has collected the key research on the effect of learning ‘in the living environment’. The findings show that being outdoors leads teachers to create more relevant and exciting ways of learning, which particularly benefit students who struggle in the classroom. Students are more motivated and teachers’ skills and subject knowledge are broadened and deepened. By taking on these approaches, schools can raise their students’ achievements and create a wider understanding of issues such as healthy eating, sustainability and caring for the environment. Their summary of the best articles can be found here.
This year, Empty Classroom Day has gone national and we are aiming to get 1000 schools to sign up. The suggested theme for the day is ‘from tiny seed to tasty mouthful’. Many organisations, including the London Wildlife Trust, FACE to the Eden Project, are supporting the day with resources and special offers for schools. Pupils could be doing anything from planting and gardening to cooking and having picnics, to making art on city farms. Schools interested in taking part should sign up at http://is.gd/emptyclassroomday.
Zoë Slade currently volunteers for the London Environmental Education Forum pursuing a personal interest in environmental well-being.