banner image

Woodside Group - entirely outdoor learning success

“Through forest schools, our students and staff have found peace away from the everyday hustle and bustle of planning and teaching. It has also offered new opportunities and experiences to all staff and students to aid in their development and building friendships.”

12 Feb 2024

That’s how Tom (Forest School Lead) sums up the difference that outdoor learning has made to Woodland Group’s 40 students.

If you're looking for an inspiring story of how innovative thinking can transform education, you'll want to hear about Woodside Group. Catering solely to the educational needs of young people with autism, this group has completely rethought its approach to the curriculum, and instead of traditional classroom-based learning, it’s made learning outside the classroom its core focus.

From the initial school site of a shed on a farm to its current six schools with extensive grounds, set across three counties, Woodside has always had an outdoor learning focus. The team knows that for students who have previously been unable to access traditional forms of mainstream education, they needed to provide a unique and exciting learning experience. Their outdoor lessons aim to bring the natural world to life, inspiring and engaging each student in a way they may have never experienced before.

This approach is supported at every level of the teaching team, from the initial interview process to regular CPD sessions designed to help staff to deliver the very best outdoor lessons. In fact, the group’s prospectus states it is ‘designed to enthuse, engage and motivate students, whilst allowing them to make a real connection with the world around them.’

The team believes that a holistic approach to education is vital for students' social, emotional and academic success. So, as well as delivering traditional subjects both within their grounds and in their local communities, the school offers on-site animal-assisted therapy and Forest Schools, both of which have had a profoundly positive impact on the demeanour and well-being of the students.

So, when the group approached us to learn more the grants we could offer to train a new Forest School Level 3 teacher we were delighted to be able to help. With our support and guidance, there is now another fully-qualified teacher helping to pioneer a new pilot of the Level 1 Forestry in the Community Award, which is a forestry-based qualification aimed at SEND students.

It's no surprise then that in 2019, Woodside Group achieved the Council for Learning Outside the Classroom Gold Mark – the only national accreditation that supports and celebrates educational settings that provide meaningful experiences beyond the classroom across the whole curriculum, indoors and out, on and off-site.

All these achievements are down to one thing: a passionate belief in the power of outdoor learning and when it comes to transformative education, Woodside Group is an inspiration. It has proven that with the right investment, planning, and passion, any educational institution can rethink its approach and create an innovative learning experience that engages every student, no matter what their background.

It's an ethos we are proud to support and if you have felt inspired by this group’s success and vision then please do consider making a donation to support our work in ensuring a brighter, greener future for all children.

Related articles