Pupils at a Sheffield primary school are going back to nature for their lessons - in a brand new outdoor classroom, built in their playground.
Infants at Oughtibridge Primary School are having lessons in a specially designed wooden structure, open to the sun and fresh air but sheltered by a roof and sturdy blinds.
Headteacher Patricia Munt said it was obvious the school needed more space and the pupils had all embraced the novel idea of being able to learn their lessons outdoors.
She said the new classroom was also proving more cost-effective and sustainable than adding a conventional extension to the school.
“Members of the school council were at a meeting about eco-schools and heard about the idea there,” said Mrs Munt.
“After that the infants put together a presentation - and a begging letter!
“It’s been very nice as the whole school community has been involved.”
The Lord Mayor of Sheffield officially declared the new classroom open, and pupils and teachers alike have been warming to their new al fresco lessons.
“We had a choir singing to open the classroom, plus maypole dancing, Year 5 and 6 pupils performing poetry, and Year 3 and 4 youngsters doing clapping games with the parents,” said Mrs Munt.
“The Lord Mayor even knew some of the rhymes from when she was at school!”
As well as being a creative answer to the school’s need for space, the new classroom means the school is also meeting its commitment to provide a suitable outdoor learning experience for its pupils, as set out in the curriculum.
The school, on Naylor Road, Oughtibridge, applied for a Lottery grant in January this year, and after being awarded £10,000 set upon finding the perfect outdoor structure for the youngsters to learn in.
After settling on the grand design its build was completed over just three days.
The new structure has all the facilities of a traditional classroom, with the added bonus of extra sunshine.
Used by all year groups, the new room can accommodate up to 35 pupils at a time, with the children sitting on wooden benches in view of the whiteboard for lessons ranging from Spanish and history to music.
It’s not just a home for traditional lessons, either.
It also has found itself to be a popular warm-up area for PE and parents have been using it to wait for their children after school.
“For Diwali we’re going to set it up as an Indian temple, and during Chinese new year we will deck it out with lanterns,” said Mrs Munt.
“It can be easily transformed into different learning spaces, depending on what the children are doing at the time.”
The juniors are now putting together their own proposal and begging letter for a similar structure in their playground, Mrs Munt added.