Pupils’ quest for outdoor learning supported by MP

Julian Smith MP with pupils during his visit to Burton Leonard Church of England Primary School.  (130607M2)

Julian Smith MP with pupils during his visit to Burton Leonard Church of England Primary School. (130607M2)

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Pupils at a school near Ripon have been given a rare insight into the work of a politician, as Ripon MP Julian Smith pledged to support their outdoor learning project.

Mr Smith visited three classes of pupils at Burton Leonard Church of England Primary School on Friday, June 7, to talk about his experiences as an MP and hear about the school’s quest for a new outdoor learning project.

Headteacher Amanda Townson said Mr Smith was impressed by the pupils’ “high levels of questioning”.

“Questions ranged from ‘What is it like being an MP?’ to ‘What do you hope to achieve in the future?’ and ‘What is your vision for small villages in North Yorkshire?’” Mrs Townson told the Gazette.

“We would like to thank him for his support in the school’s application for a grant to develop outdoor learning.”

The primary school launched an initiative in September to raise £10,000 for a comprehensive 13x9m outdoor learning environment for its pupils.

The Friends of Burton Leonard Primary School (FOBLS), who are helping to raise money for the project, have so far fundraised £7,000 towards the outdoor area, which will include a space for den-making and music making, and a sandpit.

There will also be a wooden construction which can be used for anything the children want – from a fictitious cafe to an imaginary butchers.

“The wooden construction is open-ended and let’s the children use their imagination,” said Mrs Townson.

And imagination is at the heart of the new project, which Mrs Townson hopes will be up and running by next summer.

“It’s based on the children’s and the local community’s vision,” Mrs Townson told the Gazette. “Children have different learning styles and including outside learning in their education is part of meeting all the children’s needs. Some children learn better outside.”

Although some lessons at the school are already conducted outdoors, Mrs Townson said the £10,000 fundraising target will help the learning area “reach its full potential”.

And Mr Smith was keen to encourage the new project on the day of his visit.

He told the Gazette: “The school is lucky to have FOBLS, which is a great group. I enjoyed hearing about their plans for the outdoor learning environment and I wish them every success in their fundraising efforts and will support them in any way I can.”

l If you would like to support the project contact the school on 01765 677412.