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do you think kids spend enough time outdoors at primary school?

(39 Posts)
mirandah2478 Thu 28-Mar-13 22:06:55

Just wondering what people's experiences are with primary schools getting kids outside - has anyone found a school that has a really strong policy of taking them out whatever the weather? And does anyone have to send outdoor clothes into school? Also, personally I am finding it hard sometimes to find time to take them out to the park etc after school because of fitting in homework, making tea and things (and I'm also doing a full time degree), does anyone have the same problem? I'm researching outdoor activities for my degree so I'm interested to hear people's ideas for that as well.

OutInAllWeathers Fri 29-Mar-13 07:26:06

The school my dc attend is pretty good at taking them out whatever the weather however this is often hampered by a lack of appropriate clothing, despite repeated asking for parents to send child in wellies and coats etc. I think some schools are fearful of parents complaining so keep the children in when its snowy etc.
I have three sons and at home we go out no matter what because they need the exercise (hence my username!)

MissDuke Fri 29-Mar-13 08:26:11

The nursery at our school is brill - they go out whatever the weather (wrapped up of course) which I have heard some complaints about, but most parents see the value in it. The school aged children do many lessons outside, but not in the rain or very cold - the older they get, the less likely they are to have appropriate clothes with them I guess! The school has huge storage containers with piles of outdoor stuff, that they make use of, and PE is usually done outside, as well as other lessons. As a parent, I think it is brilliant! x

lisad123everybodydancenow Fri 29-Mar-13 08:34:24

Message withdrawn at poster's request.

Bossybritches22 Fri 29-Mar-13 08:37:38

The more outside the better. Nothing that is taught inside that can't he adapted for outside.

Sadly with time/ admin/ target restraints most schools have limited resources to get out as often as they would like.r

Even on coldest days a 10 minute blast outside can be beneficial for any child.

No such thing as bad weather just wrong clothing.

PastSellByDate Fri 29-Mar-13 09:11:22

Hi mirandah2478:

Forest schools seem to be very popular in this LEA - useful for several reasons.

Science curriculum supported: observing seasons
observing birds/ animals/ nature
observing weather (hope to raise
funds for our own weather station to
record weather & apply
age appropriate maths work)
planting food they ultimately eat
planting to improve look of school
planting in local park
bat boxes in church & graveyard & local park

PREP TIME FOR TEACHERS: The teacher taking forest school is additional -
so whilst she has a class for the afternoon
or morning (usually 1 hr YR/ KS1 or 2 hrs KS2)
the teacher can use recess + forest school
time for marking/ preparation/ meetings.

Fresh air for kids: The kids love it. They have to bring in their own kit - younger children are sent in already dressed appropriately (usually all morning sessions). Wellies remain at school (and are also used on wet days for recess) - kit is sent home each week - usually because very wet/ muddy.

When weather is truly foul - they have indoor activities - i.e. making Christmas wreaths or making planters (these are 'stored up' for bad weather reserve activities).

I think that more could be done to link in elements of the curriculum (possibly improved resources on TES or appropriate site) but often (as here on MN from woodlands trust: various organisations have already prepared some great resources (e.g. Essex Wildlife Trust or Cambridge City Council worksheets:

I think more could be done to use this time to take them to local places of interest - lots of little SSIs tucked in and around most towns, take them out to see bluebells in Spring, etc... but all in all I think it's good for children to understand how things grow, weather changes, how to climb trees and build forts, whilst also getting some fresh air.

PastSellByDate Fri 29-Mar-13 09:15:35

Oh PS:

Our school tries to link activities into Spring Watch/ Autumn Watch tv programmes.

try to link to Stargazing live tv programmes (although this is a 'foul weather' activity - but children encouraged to look at start over weekend with parents if clear skies - which is always a big if here).

RSPB big garden birdwatch (


Big butterfly count (

also have 'bug hunts' or 'creepy crawlies' counts.


lljkk Fri 29-Mar-13 09:41:21

It's okay, about 30 minutes/day on average ime. Even on a good day, Reception gets the least, maybe 40 minutes in total. They just take so long to eat. They don't like rain or snow.

I once found a study that reckoned that the avg British preschool-age-child spent less time outdoors than any other nationality in Europe. It was less than 1/2 hour/day over the whole year. And then they went to school doubling their outdoor time.

Hulababy Fri 29-Mar-13 09:48:52

At my school, in y1/2, they have about an hour or so - Playtimes a day - 15 min each am and pm, plus after lunch. Lunch is just over an hour, so probably more than this tbh.

We take children out for PE and other lessons as often as weather allows.

Reception can spend far longer outside as they have free flow morning and afternoon, and at least two outdoor spaces are available each time.

lljkk Fri 29-Mar-13 10:05:34

Ours have the same time nominally, Hula, but by the time you consider how long they need to eat lunch, line up at the dinner hall door, and a bit of bad weather, they're probably get half an hour in total on average.

That's true, I forgot Reception has their own outdoor learning space. So they must creep up to well over an hour/day after all (on avg).

twooter Fri 29-Mar-13 10:12:43

At my dd's nursery, it is child led to a certain extent, but all the kids have warm wellies, waterproofs, hats and gloves, and will frequently stay outside for the whole 2.5hour session whatever the weather. I stayed for a session once -it was -4, and I was frozen, but the kids were having a whale of a time, and all chose to go back outside after. A lot of the small schools around here have kids outside a lot, with outdoor classrooms. NE Scotland, though so not great weather.

mummytime Fri 29-Mar-13 10:17:06

My DCs school has an outdoor classroom for each year R-2, and spend time learning in them everyday, often free flow. They also have a shared outdoor area which they go to for 1/2 day once a week, its a bit more wild but secure.
For years 3-6 they go outside quite a bit, this ranges from "outdoors education", a run after assemblies, or just using the outside in the curriculum which varies from "visiting the bluebells inthe wood" to den building, to re-enacting the war of the roses or measuring out Noah's ark. They also go out all playtimes unless the rain is stronger than drizzle.

Another school (in the poorer part of town) has class sets of Wellys and raincoats, so everyone goes out every day.

mirandah2478 Fri 29-Mar-13 11:03:15

wow that's really interesting to see how much variation there is from one school to another.
PastSellByDate that's great to hear that some places are using forest schools in primary school not just pre-school.
my kids' school has a free-flow 'indoor outdoor' area for foundation stage as well, like some of you have described - it seems like younger children overall have more time and effort put into making sure they get outside and then by ks2 they seem to be indoors more. Don't know if anyone else agrees?
The whole clothing issue seems to make a massive difference in this country where the weather doesn''t exactly make it easy to get a whole class full of kids outside! Personally, I'd be really happy to send in waterproofs and things to school so the teachers could take the class outside whenever they want, but maybe it would be an extra hassle for some parents?
mummytime - good to know that it's not a money/class issue then, and even schools in poorer areas can have the kit they need to get outside.

mrz Fri 29-Mar-13 11:10:17

In Foundation Stage children have free access to outdoors for most of the day and we provide waterproofs and wellies. In KS1 we have ForestEd and roughly 2 hours outdoor access daily. We have 3 outdoor classrooms and outdor learning environments.

MNetBlackpoolLE Fri 29-Mar-13 11:10:41

Message withdrawn at poster's request.

mirandah2478 Fri 29-Mar-13 11:51:43

those last two posts show how much schools can vary in their attitude to outdoor play and learning! mrz, do the KS2 kids get to go out a lot too?
what does anyone think about the difference it makes to kids when they get to go outside? I know my family gets kind of 'cabin fever' if we stay in all day, everyone ends up annoying each other!
I guess schools are under a lot of pressure to meet learning targets etc so if outdoor activities can tie in with the curriculum then maybe that helps. I've been teaching outdoor dance and creative movement recently (as I'm studying choreography) so that covers some of the PE curriculum, but can also bring in other things like PSHE. I haven't found many other places that do much dance outside though, does anyone else know any schools that have?

ProbablyJustGas Fri 29-Mar-13 12:52:10

dsd has been outside a fair bit this year. Her class took walks around town when they were learning about the area and have had gym class in the snow. it's a suburban school so going into the forest would be a production for them but her teachers have still gotten them outdoors for learning. break is usually outdoors. we send spare trousers.

mrz Fri 29-Mar-13 12:57:45

KS2 have about an hour outdoor play, they have their own outdoor classroom and we have an allotment so there is a gardening club and we also work closely with taking children on survival training and lots of exciting outdoor activities.

mirandah2478 Fri 29-Mar-13 13:26:46

that's great they got to do a gym class in the snow! I always wonder how much time children get outside in countries with much more extreme weather than we have - from the little I know it seems that many places are just better prepared for going outside and have warm clothes as a matter of course.

Hulababy Fri 29-Mar-13 14:27:34

Lljkk - ours get 30-40 min at lunch once you take food time off. And we go out in all weathers; I hate the wet and windy break duty lol. However better to get them out than keep them In ime.

lljkk Fri 29-Mar-13 14:56:04

Our reception are lucky to get more than 20 minutes outside at lunchtime. I suppose it's 25 minutes if you include lining-up time.

trinity0097 Fri 29-Mar-13 16:44:22

I work in a prep school, we keep them out in most weathers at break time, has to be heavy rain, not just rain for wet break. Games is almost always outside, if it's been snowy then it's snow play/sledging down the 2nd fairway. The parents know what we send them out and send them to school with appropriate outdoor clothes and their sledges!

mirandah2478 Fri 29-Mar-13 17:16:35

Snow play sounds amazing! It's great to hear so many good ideas about outdoor play and learning. The thing I really love about doing dance outside is that it gets you warm! I've had people moaning about going out in the cold before a lesson in winter and then 10 mins later asking to take their coats off - and that was the grown ups!
If any of you have a minute to fill in my little online survey that I'm using for my dissertation on outdoor dance and creative movement, I'd really appreciate it. I just want to get as many opinions as possible from parents, carers and teachers who really know how these things work best day to day rather than creating some theory that is completely impractical for anyone in real life! (and also I know everyone's busy so I'm doing a little prize draw as an incentive smile)
here's the link:

vikinglights Fri 29-Mar-13 18:49:22

Dd1 is out a lot (disclaimer we're in rural norway) its about two hours a day split between break times and outdoor lessons (gym, science, whatever). Her kit cubby is currentlt filled with:- snow suit, all weather trousers and jacket, rain trousers and jacket, lined wellies, snow boots, allorted hats/gloves/woolly socks, full change of clothes and indoor pe kit not to mention skis and ice skates that are often added ibto the mix! Good job they're not short on space ......

Noggie Fri 29-Mar-13 20:18:11

My dd is outside for break and lunch. They have an amazing adventure playground and outdoor class room which get used a lot - I think being outside is so healthy for everyone! Def helps reduce cabin fever/ tension for adults and kids alikewink

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