Health, Education & Learning – in the spotlight

Two boys cross a shallow river barefoot.

There is a lot of excellent practice going on across Wales with different groups using the natural environment to maximise health, learning and education opportunities.  On this page we shine the spotlight on settings, organisations, individuals or topics that have featured in our monthly Education & Learning newsletter and give you more detailed information and ideas on how you can develop or improve what you do at your setting.

Would you like to receive monthly updates on how to get your group learning in, learning for and learning about the natural environment?  Subscribe to our Education & Learning newsletter for inspiration, support and the latest news by dropping us an email.

Putting NRW webinar training into practice - St Mary's Catholic Primary School, Flint

September 2023

One school which has attended our webinars in the past is St Mary's Catholic Primary School, Flint.  We spoke to Headteacher Paul Phillips to find out how the teachers who attended our ‘Life on the River’ and ‘Wales Coast Path’ training webinars put our thoughts and ideas into practice.    

Lixwm school pupils investigate planning application’s impact on natural environment

September 2023

‘To protect or develop a natural area?’ that was the question that Stacey Jones, a Year 4, 5 and 6 mixed class teacher from Lixwm Church in Wales Voluntarily Aided School, Flintshire recently put to her learners.  With an application for a major ‘out of town’ retail and leisure development having been submitted by a commercial development company her learners worked through a range of cross-curricular outdoor learning activities to investigate what was special about a local natural area.  Did her learners support the suggestions of the enterprising, creative contributors who wanted to develop the land, boost the local economy, and create jobs.  Or were they ethically, informed citizens who objected the proposals and wanted to protect the landscape for future generations?  Ffion Hughes from our Health, Education and Natural Resources team spoke to Stacey to find out.

‘Shipwrecked in Costa Del Sychdyn’ – pupils survive with only the Curriculum for Wales to support them

July 2023

Megan Hughes, a Year 4 teacher from Sychdyn, Flintshire recently put the activities shared on our ‘Shipwrecked’ training into practice activities with her learners.  Ffion from our Health, Education and Natural Resources team caught up with her to find out how her Flintshire castaways put the Curriculum for Wales to use to secure a rescue.

Getting green fingered with Greenway Primary

June 2023

As part of our national response to the effects of climate change, we know we must adapt the way our food is produced.

Greenway Primary, in Rumney, Cardiff, are already on the case, gifting their learners with a wheelbarrow full of gardening knowledge with their edible gardening work. Karen Clarke, our Lead Specialist Advisor: Education & Lifelong Learning, spoke to Simon Evans from the school to learn more.

Growing and nurturing a sustainable ‘Dyfodol’ at Brynteg Comprehensive School, Bridgend

May 2023

In recognition of the diverse needs of pupils, Brynteg Comprehensive School, Bridgend has established a provision for learners in years 7-9 called Dyfodol. Meaning ‘future’, their Dyfodol provision supports learners who may find the normal timetabling of a comprehensive school challenging. We spoke to Lauren Feeley, the Dyfodol Provision Learning Coordinator to learn how the Dyfodol provision maximises the opportunities to learn in, about and for the natural environment.

Ysgol Penrhyn Dewi – caring faithfully for their Cynefin

May 2023

Ysgol Penrhyn Dewi serves the historic city of St. Davids and the village of Solva. As the first 3-16 Voluntary Aided Church School in Wales, the school has learners spread over 3 campuses and an extensive rural area. We discussed how the school incorporates RVE and outdoor learning with Cilla Bramley, the Assistant Headteacher for Teaching and Learning.

Monmouthshire learners connect with their cynefin

April 2023

More than just a geographical location, the term ‘cynefin’ can be used to describe our relationship with the natural environment and how that connection shape’s our identity, well-being, and sense of belonging. With ‘cynefin’ as their theme for the Spring term, Kate Peacock, Acting Headteacher at Trellech Primary school shares how the theme has been used to deliver the Curriculum for Wales.

Ditch the whiteboards and clear the building – adopt a whole setting approach this Wales Outdoor Learning Week

March 2023

Will you and your setting be taking a whole setting approach to outdoor learning this Wales Outdoor Learning Week?  Natural Resources Wales and the Wales Council for Outdoor Learning invite you to celebrate Wales’ biggest and best playing and learning space – our natural environment during #WalesOutdoorLearningWeek, 24 – 30 April 2023. 

The theme this year is active learning in the outdoors - encouraging healthy confident individuals.  To ensure all your learners reap the benefits of learning in, about and for the biggest and best classroom we have in Wales; our natural environment, here’s some top tips on how to get your whole setting on board.

Sowing the seeds of an early connection to nature through the Healthy and Sustainable Preschool Scheme  

March 2023

The Healthy and Sustainable Preschool scheme is a national accreditation scheme which acknowledges pre-school settings as contributors to children’s health and well-being.  The scheme covers a range of seven health topics including the environment. How does the scheme help develop an early connection to nature?  We spoke to Emma Coleman, Cardiff Healthy and Sustainable Preschool Officer to find out.

Embracing the joys of winter with your learners

January 2023

Just because it’s cold outside doesn’t mean your learners have lost their energy or desire to play.  The winter offers a variety of ways to stimulate imagination through play – check out our ideas.

Mudiad meithrin – using the outdoors to ‘meithrin’ / nurture Welsh language development

January 2023

Nia Chapman, North Powys Support Officer, and Mirain Jones, Cylch Methrin Leader for Cylch Meithrin Dyffryn Banw, Powys share their thoughts on the benefits of spending time in the outdoors and how this helps to promote Welsh language development.

‘Teen’ing’ up – Project drags teens off screens and offers Conwy families opportunities to get outdoors

January 2023

Greg Woolley from Nant y Glyn Forest School, Colwyn Bay shares his experiences of running a project which teams teens and their families in the great outdoors.

​Enterprising, creative contributors - Penygarn pupils get ‘Arty Parky’

December 2022

Having spent time exploring and taking notice of the natural beauty of their local natural environment, Years 4 and 6 pupils from Penygarn Primary, near Pontypool have been channelling their creative flair to create pieces of natural art.

​The ‘in-tree-ging’ learning opportunities a Christmas tree offers

December 2022

“It’s beginning to look a lot like Christmas” but have you ever stopped and wondered how evergreen trees, be they pine, spruce or fir, become the symbol of Christmas?  Why do we cut down a perfectly good tree, drag it in the house and decorate it?  Why not look into the origins of the custom with your learners?

“Baby it’s cold outside!” - How to ‘Carry on’ learning in the natural environment during the winter months

November 2022

You look out the window and see a grey and dull day or feel a crisp, cold breeze drafting through the door as you open it. “We’ll leave it until tomorrow”, you say to yourself. It’s easy to put off venturing out into the natural environment with your learners when the temperature dips but just because it’s cold outside doesn’t mean your learners have lost their energy or desire to play. Here are our tips on how to enjoy the outdoors with your learners in the colder months ahead.

Installing a love and appreciation of the natural environment from a young age at Rachael’s Playhouse

Hannah Jones and Rachael Barnett run successful childcare settings at Hirwaun and Aberdare for children aged from 18 months to 5 years old. Hannah explains how the Aberdare setting provides opportunities for learners from a young age to engage and connect with the natural environment.

Ysgol Rhos Helyg, Ceredigion on the trail of the Wales Coast Path

The 870-mile-long Wales Coast Path which stretches along the entire length of the Welsh coastline offers a plethora of learning opportunities. With the Path celebrating its 10th birthday in 2022, we launched a suite of education resources to support groups to learn on, about and for the path and offered education groups that had attended our ‘Wales Coast Path – your route to coastal learning’ webinars a travel bursary of up to £200 to help towards the cost of visiting the path. One setting which took up the offer was Ysgol Rhos Helyg, near Tregaron, Ceredigion. Teacher Sioned Owen shares their experiences.

“A conker fight – what’s that?” What’s happened to the playground game?

Small and shiny, conkers are one of the natural jewels of autumn’s bounty. Once much sought after, primed for battle by being baked in ovens or soaked in vinegar before being put on string ready for the playground, we ask why, one of the oldest games around, seems to have fallen by the wayside?

Looking to a natural future: Flintshire looks to grow its outdoor learning provision

Jane Borthwick, Learning Adviser - School Improvement Primary at Flintshire County Council shares lessons learnt and looks to increase outdoor learning provision even further as the county embraces the Curriculum for Wales.

Nature tots: childminding with nature

Creating time and space for fun, active learning in the natural environment for the children in her care comes as second nature to Carmarthenshire childminder Kelly Still.

Lessons we can learn from nature

What lessons can we learn from nature? Here’s our thoughts.

How can learning in, learning about, and learning for the natural environment help our health and well­being?

In 2008, the New Economics Foundation published the study ‘5 ways to well­being’ study, which identified evidence­ based actions to improve well­being. Each step has synchronicity with being in nature.

How Natur has grown

In 2021, we introduced you to Natur, a visionary outdoor learning area at Ysgol Bro Dinefwr, Llandeilo that was in the planning stages. We recently caught up with the school’s Assistant Headteacher, Ian Chriswick, to find out how it has developed over the last year.

Ysgol Abererch, Pwllheli share their thoughts on school gardening 

Pupils from Ysgol Abererch, Pwllheli, winners of the S4C ‘School garden of the year competition 2021’, take a break from growing flowers, herbs and leeks to share their thoughts on school gardening.

“It’s not revolutionary or hard.  We’re just ordinary kids who have taken small steps to make our corner of the world greener”

Watch a video of the learners and their teacher discussing their efforts.

Making the most of the outdoors to tackle loneliness 

How can the natural environment be used to tackle loneliness? Here are some ideas we’ve come up with. 

Flintshire teacher puts NRW enviro-crime training into practice

Following training from Natural Resources Wales (NRW), Megan Hughes, a Year 3 teacher at Ysgol Sychdyn, Flintshire decided to put the 'From Crime to Courtroom: Enviro crime’ training to life.

Teacher describes flytipping investigation during Wales Outdoor Learning Week as “one of the most memorable, AMAZING weeks in my teaching career!” 

“Here comes the sun” – customs celebrating the onset of summer from around the world

Most people are aware of how Christmas is celebrated around the world, but have you ever asked your learners to pause for thought and investigate how the arrival of summer is celebrated?

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