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Primary children playing outdoors

School grounds development case study: Pensans Primary

A team from the Eden Project worked with Pensans Primary School in Cornwall, to transform their culture of outdoor learning and play, while also developing their school grounds.

Embedding outdoor learning

Pensans School approached the Eden Project with a challenge. They wanted to transform their large, but underutilised outdoor space into 'the best possible place for learning and play'. This meant not only looking at the playground, but also how it was used in both lessons and playtime. 

This project was about changing hearts and minds as well as changing the playground. The Eden Project was uniquely placed to help. Our team has expertise in curriculum, play, outdoor learning, community consultation and school landscape design. We aimed to devise a program that empowered the school community to make the changes they wanted to see and continue the process of change once we had gone. 

Over the summer and autumn terms of 2011, we worked with teaching staff, lunchtime supervisors, parents and children exploring possibilities for outdoor learning and adventurous outdoor play, building confidence and capacity in the adults and consulting with everybody on what they’d like to see in their school grounds.

We used everything we’d learned to draw up a master-plan for the ongoing development of the school grounds. Since the ‘big reveal’ in October 2011, lots of things have happened.

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Pensans School

“ The whole project was cohesive and well managed with equal emphasis on all aspects of play and outdoor learning. It felt like it was as important to you as it was to us. ”

Outdoor learning successes

  • The lunchtime-staff continue to champion creative outdoor play at lunchtimes. There are banks of wellies outside the classrooms; at playtime the children change their shoes and ‘disappear’ in the field and its wilder margins. This means more fun, more enjoyment, more socialising, more exercise – all good in themselves - and means that children are more prepared to learn during lesson times
  • The school has constructed an amazing garden on a disused roof space, and built a greenhouse out of plastic bottles.  Currently all classes are involved in gardening and growing – and they are just about to start producing herbs for use in the school kitchen
  • The school is currently building an amphitheatre in the middle of the school field for dramatic productions, creative learning and play.

Transforming outdoor learning in your school

Inspired by what you’ve read? Let us help you along the journey of transforming the culture of outdoor learning in your own school. We have expertise in curriculum, play, outdoor learning, community consultation and school landscape design, and we’ve experience in embedding outdoor learning into schools just like yours. See how we can help.