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Richmond House School celebrates the opening of its new outdoor classroom

PUBLISHED: 00:00 16 January 2015

Great Britain and England rugby league star Keith Senior, of Leeds Rhinos, officially opens the new yurt

Great Britain and England rugby league star Keith Senior, of Leeds Rhinos, officially opens the new yurt

Archant

Independent Leeds prep Richmond House School is maximising the use of its ten acres of outdoor space by erecting a yurt in the school grounds as an outdoor classroom for all year groups, from nursery through to Year 6.

This is part of the school’s strong belief that learning should not just be confined to a classroom and that learning outdoors presents a whole new educational experience offering children opportunities for physical activity, exploration and greater engagement with nature.

Among the many issues facing children today are lack of exercise and excess time spent on electronic media. The school claims its new yurt will benefit pupils by getting them outside more often, making even more use of the school’s ten acres of land and encouraging them to be more involved with engaging, hands-on activities.

Deputy head Paul Oldham said: ‘The vision is to be a school that continues to develop the whole child not just in the classroom, but beyond too. We recognise that our fields are a tremendous asset to us and want to make the best use of them.

‘It has been suggested that very young children learn through exploration and value being outside. As they become older, they begin to establish different methods of learning, depending on what suits them, and being outdoors often stimulates and encourages that.

‘All the children will benefit from having lessons beyond the school building. The yurt will provide the opportunity for the children to be in a safe and dry environment, but have direct access to the grounds to enhance their learning. They will be immersed in a multi-sensory experience; they can touch, smell and listen to the surrounding world.’

The school aims to embed outdoor learning within the school curriculum: history lessons could include an archaeological dig; children might test their navigation skills in geography; or try out coordinates in maths. They will also be able to bring their surroundings alive with the sound of music, thanks to a collection of giant musical instruments beside the yurt.

‘The children were thrilled to see the yurt being erected in the school grounds and can’t wait to have classes in it,’ said headmistress Jane Disley.

‘Our aim is to also make Richmond House School a centre for team building and outdoor pursuits. The yurt offers opportunities for a whole host of activities, events and exhibitions. The staff and pupils at Richmond House School are very excited about this brand new resource.’

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