Learning in the living environment
Growing Schools aims to give all children the opportunity to connect with the living environment, whether it is an inner city window box or a vast country estate, a school veg plot or a natural woodland. Interacting with living plants and animals provides a very rich, hands-on learning experience in which both formal and informal education can flourish.
The Growing Schools programme supports the Learning Outside the Classroom Manifesto, and shares its conviction that every young person should experience the world beyond the classroom as an essential part of learning and personal development, whatever their age, ability or circumstance. Within these broad boundaries Growing Schools focuses particularly on three areas that are accessible to all, at some level, as a context for learning. They are:
- Food and farming, including the managed countryside
- Gardens, gardening and green spaces
- Wildlife and the natural environment
Growing Schools also meshes very well with the Sustainable Schools agenda. It provides a practical approach to its core theme of care – for oneself, for each other and for the environment – and is particularly relevant to the food & drink gateway.
An understanding of growing through real experience and connection to the living world needs to begin in the early years. These experiences are easily embedded within the core principles, values and areas of learning for the Early Years Foundation Stage. (See Early years vision and values for outdoor play and Guidance on outdoor learning effective practices). Growing Schools supports early-years settings, including child minders, to give all children the opportunity to connect with the living environment from birth onwards.