This week, the attention of the media has once again been turned to Government Funding after the Educational Watchdog, OFSTED, expressed concern that the ‘Pupil Premium’ funding scheme that is designed to support disadvantaged students, is failing to have the desired impact. OFSTED’s snapshot survey of 117 schools across England found that over half of head teachers were struggling to see how the £600 pupil premium awarded for each eligible student is making any difference to the way that they are able to support disadvantaged children owing to the fact that it was bought in to effect just as School budget cuts were announced by the Tories. However it was the Schools that came under criticism in OFSTED’s Chief Inspector, Sir Michael Wilshaw’s comments “If they are just using it to tarmac the school playground and fix the school roof, then that is not good use of the money” he said. Inspectors are now looking at the ways in which schools are using money in order to determine whether or not it is being distributed effectively.
At the heart of the debate lies the issue of the how to best support the learning process and bridge the gap between advantaged and disadvantaged children. Here at The Learning Escape, we see time and time again how changing the environment in which teachers teach and pupils learn to one that connects it to nature can nurture the teaching-learning process, as well as the social and emotional development of all students. This is particularly prevalent in inner city areas where it is easy to become detached from the natural environment. We take pride in rekindling inspiration, motivation and creativity whilst supporting the crucial developmental stages, through working with schools to craft beautiful, environmentally friendly learning environments. Research shows that increased contact with the environment correlates positively with the way that children learn, in an effect coined by child psychologist Aric Siegman as the ‘Countryside Effect’. Download our whitepaper on The Outdoor Environment here.
So, to Sir Michael Wilshaw we say ‘we disagree’… using the Pupil Premium to develop outdoor space can provide a huge benefit to disadvantaged students.
Top ways in which The Learning Escape Eco-Classrooms can benefit children in inner city areas:
Children become inspired by their natural surroundings, aiding creative skills that can be applied to all aspects of teaching and learning both in and beyond the classroom.
Children start to take an active interest in the environment and become more aware of the importance of looking after it.
Eco-Classrooms are a great way to teach about sustainability and the environment, particularly in city areas where the natural environment may not be as obviously accessible as in rural areas.
Sustainable features such as solar heating, sun pipes and living sedum roofs encourage learning about sustainable design and promote environmental citizenship both within the school and the local community.
Learning Escapes can provide environments that bring the outside, allowing children to benefit from the advantages of outdoor play all year round.