Skip To Main Content

Ambassador opens outdoor classroom

  • Eco News

Students in Primary will be heading outside for lessons after their new outdoor classroom was opened on Earth Day (22nd April) by the British Ambassador Fleur Thomas.

The outdoor classroom seats 20 students and is made from eco-friendly and sustainable materials. It provides a change of scenery for Primary School students, giving them a break from their normal routines.

St George’s Sustainability Coordinator Anne-Marie McHugh said the benefits of the new classroom were plenty. “It creates an opportunity to step outside of the classroom and away from smartboards, iPads and indoor lighting to experience a more natural environment. It also offers more space, fresh air and physical activity to promote a sense of wellbeing,” Ms McHugh said.

The project to design and build the outdoor classroom was led by the school’s Eco-agents, a group of students who are part of the Student Council. “They asked us to bring nature into the classrooms, but we decided to take it a step further and bring the classroom to nature,” Ms McHugh said.

“We initially took inspiration from the Wild & Wellness Classroom created by the Eco-warriors at the International School of Brunei. Then we researched layout ideas, considering shade and the direction of the sun.”

Using eco-friendly and sustainable materials was also essential for the project and all wood was sustainably sourced. In fact, the chalkboard comes from reclaimed wood from a house built in 1905, making it more than 120 years old. The project team also tried to avoid plastic materials, opting for wooden storage and a chalkboard.

Although the classroom has just opened, several lessons have already been held there, many with a special focus on nature, health and wellbeing. “First aid classes with Year 6 were held, with great excitement, with students learning CPR in the sunshine. In addition, weekly meditation classes are booked, along with weekly Eco-agent classes,” Ms McHugh said. There are also plans for outdoor activities, such as bird watching, insect hotel building, planting and bird feeder assembling. A number of clubs have also been invited to use the space after school.

Outdoor classrooms have been gaining in popularity around the world, particularly in the past two years as schools try to create safer environments in the midst of Covid-19. “Outdoor classrooms are becoming more widely used for various reasons, be it links to improved mental health or increased support for eco-school projects,” Ms McHughes explained. “Nonetheless, forest schools have been using them for years, so it is not a new concept.

“For us at St George’s, it offers a space that both students and staff can enjoy together. Nature has a huge positive impact on our mental health, reducing stress and promoting calm. The school also has a sustainability-conscious community who are aware of our impact on the planet. Getting outside helps to remind us about what we want to protect.”

Interesting facts about St George’s outdoor classroom

  • The chalkboard was made from reclaimed wood from an old house built in 1905. This makes the wood more than 120 years old and likely to have been drawn by horse and cart and originally hand-carved into planks
  • The chalkboard was selected specifically to enable use of chalk and ensure zero plastic
  • The seats were made from a tree that was cut down because it was an invasive species and damaging to local biodiversity. The tree will be replaced with three new trees supporting local biodiversity