Learning beyond the classroom

As a Geography teacher, it is perhaps to be expected that I have strong feelings about learning opportunities that are afforded to us when we venture out of the confines of a classroom. My own A Level Geography teacher was equally keen on learning outside and indeed has written books on the subject. For disciplines such as Geography or Biology it is easy to see the links to outdoor education and the field trips that are required to facilitate field work. From traffic flows to pedestrian questionnaires, sand dune succession to channel flow calculations or beach profiles to dehydration rates of seaweed (a personal favourite from my own A Level experience!!), Geography and Biology departments nationwide have got us covered! The ramifications of this type of outdoor learning are clear. It offers opportunities to see the world in real time. It produces opportunities for getting stuck into the practical element of these subjects and reinforces the learning that takes place more formally in a classroom. 

It also allows for development of exploration and investigation. The latter is a critical skill that students are expected to utilise at university. Whether they are out in the field or formulating a literature review, the skills required are similar and the thought process identical. Those who are able to hone this skill go on to be the world’s great problem solvers, considering how investigations may take place to produce results that can then be used to better a part of our world. Year 7, currently on the Shropshire residential are starting their journey with fieldwork and discovering its many applications to a range of the humanities subjects. I look forward to hearing about their experiences next week when they return.

But learning beyond the classroom is far more than just fieldwork opportunities. This week Year 9 are enjoying this fabulous weather from the picturesque setting of the Lake District, incidentally also a Geographers paradise! Whilst there, they will not be learning about mountain formation or processes of glaciation. In fact they are lucky that no members of the geography department are there with them otherwise they would certainly be enduring an influx of geeky geography facts on an hourly basis! Instead, they will be learning about themselves, learning about their friends and their peers, testing their limits and problem solving as teams and as individuals. They will learn to value the art of real communication, be forced out of their comfort zone and learn to make compromises whilst leading each other to success.

These bonding experiences and opportunities for personal growth are so important for our students at Northampton High School, and nationally for our current generation of children and teens. They will learn more about themselves and develop more personal strengths and transferable skills in these environments than they will by simply attending an excellent school. In turn, this will support their academic growth and make them greater educational and professional risk takers. They will be more likely to push themselves out of their comfort zone and be brave enough to try new things. The culmination of these things will be a happier and more fulfilling life and greater chances of success in future relationships and careers.

Since the pandemic, our school calendar has been feeling a little bare when it comes to trips. This year, happily we have been able to start to run trips again and I am pleased to say that there are many more planned for the years ahead. Both curriculum and extra curricular trips now rightfully dominating the months ahead and there are huge numbers of exciting things to look forward to.

In the meantime, I wish all of our community at Northampton High School a rewarding, opportunity filled and fun summer holiday ahead, and I look forward to many more trips returning to our calendars in the months and years to follow.

Miss Kneen
Assistant Head Pastoral