What's All The Fuss About Beach Learning?
‘Bede’s On The Beach’ is a fantastic new scheme which has been in development at Bede’s Prep for several years.
Outdoor Learning is nothing new at Bede’s, in particular at Holywell Mount where through our Outdoor Classroom and work in Friston Forest over the years we have always encouraged the children to see the whole world as a classroom.
Since September, I have been formalising our approach to using the beach in particular - not least because Bede’s Prep School is genuinely uniquely positioned to take advantage of this incredible amenity.
Although in and of itself the beach is a wonderful place to spend time and learn about, Bede’s On The Beach is quite specific in its objectives; we use the beach as a vast outdoor classroom for the consolidation of learning, with every class from the Top Nursery group to Year 4 either already engaged in the programme or set to start soon.
What this means in practise is taking concepts learned in the classroom, such as topics related to Maths, Science and Literacy, and then visiting the beach for a carefully planned activity which tests and firms up knowledge.
If you were to be cynical, you might call Bede’s On The Beach an elabourate, roundabout route to making exams fun - because that is really what we are doing - and the outcomes have been fantastic.
From using stones to calculate complex equations to studying the changes in state in sea-water, we have seen children who might be less comfortable in classroom environments absolutely excelling and pupils who love sitting quietly indoors suddenly revealing all manner of new characteristics.
To make Bede’s On The Beach work however is less straight forward. Colleagues have had to commit to training, and I can say with some authority that planning and setting up Bede’s On The Beach sessions does require some pretty mad early-morning dashing about, hiding props and scouting relevant areas right at the crack of dawn!
These additional efforts are so worthwhile, thankfully, as the learning of my Year 2 classes has been so enlivened by our sessions throughout the year - some of which you can read about here.
Furthermore, we are out there come rain or shine and, despite some initial protestations, the children are now so excited about each new Bede’s On The Beach session that the weather is all but irrelevant.
This is not to say that we will ever stop using the forest, or venturing out on the South Downs - which has long been a favourite of many a Bede’s Prep teacher - but this new scheme has something distinct and rather special about it.
As the only school in Sussex actually bordering the ocean, it might be argued that not developing something akin to Bede’s On The Beach would be irresponsible. Whatever the case, Mr Entwisle, Mr Wood and I are exceptionally proud of it, and if you would like to know more about the effects it is having on the children (which, if those children are yours you will know is overwhelmingly positive) then please do not hesitate to pop into Holywell Mount to say hello.