Children connect with nature in Southwater

Southwater Infant Academy enjoy learning outdoors SUS-150330-124713001
Southwater Infant Academy enjoy learning outdoors SUS-150330-124713001

A major development over the last year at Southwater Infant Academy has been ‘Learning Outdoors’.

Nature provides a range of purposeful contexts that our children can really become involved in.

The planting and harvesting of fruit and vegetables, the creation of habitat piles to increase bio diversity in our academy grounds and taking part in Forest Schools all give the children tangible ways of working with and in nature to increase their connection to it.


The Forest School programme has been in place at The Southwater Infant Academy for the last three years and its learning with a difference!

In Forest Schools our children get outside and explore nature in their own way and at their own pace. From fire lighting to cooking, woodwork to bush craft they learn about the natural world in a safe environment.

It’s impossible to ‘fail’ at a Forest School; our children have the space and encouragement to use their learning style and personality to discover the world.

At The Southwater Infant Academy we are fostering a love and appreciation of the environment in the children who will grow up to be its guardians.

“I love Forest Schools because I can watch the fire. I made glow under the food I help my friends make”

“I have learned so much at Forest Schools, I’m now teaching my dad how to build a den in our garden”

“My mum was scared at first but now with my help she can light a fire”

“I really enjoyed making charcoal and then pushing a piece into an elder branch to make a pencil for my brother”


We are delighted that the Friends of Southwater Infant Academy have offered their support for the second phase of our playground development plan. The plan has been designed to capitalise on all our outdoor spaces, supporting our children’s learning at playtime and within the curriculum.

The children have contributed their ideas through our Academy and class councils. Here are just a few of their suggestions:

l Zoned areas for running and skipping

l A stage for dancing and acting

l Musical instruments for the sensory garden

l A quiet zone for reading, drawing or playing with small world figures

l An animal bay for rabbits and hens

As the number of children attending The Southwater Infant Academy is increasing it is important to utilise all our space. We are very lucky to have a paddock at the front of the Academy; a large ball space in the playground and a conservation area which includes class gardens, a woodland and a pond. All these areas are currently being used and developed to facilitate the children’s learning.

In curriculum time teachers use the outdoor spaces to enhance the children’s learning whether it is mathematical investigation - “how many right angles can you find in the sensory garden” or a creative writing activity – “sitting in the woodland – what can you hear, see, smell and touch – who might live in this secret place?!”

“We create creators – we celebrate the process of creativity. It is amazing to watch and record the progress of children developing their fine and gross motor skills, in our EYFS outside classroom using various tools and material to produce a piece of construction or art work” Vicky Dilling EYFS Leader.

“We find that children can process and remember what they have learned more effectively outdoors. They truly benefit from practising the skills they have previously tested out in the classroom in an outdoor investigation.” Christie Cavallo Yr 2 Group Leader

“Learning outside brings out confident and increases skills and learning” Geoff M (Governor)

Parent Survey

Our recent survey reflects how our parents feel about the academy with 99% saying that their child is happy to be here. 100% of the parents say that this is a good educational establishment, they are proud their child attends it and they would recommend the academy to another parent. 99% of parents support our recent developments to engage children in the outdoors.

When we asked our children what they thought this is what they told us…

“All the adults in the academy are fair”

“Adults in the academy listen to our ideas”

“The academy teaches us to respect each other”

“We are always told when we are doing well”

“We love working and learning with others outside”

Please contact the academy office for further information on 01403 733254 or visit our website

Looking forward to meeting you soon!

Report and pictures contributed by Southwater Infant Academy.