Orbis Education and Care’s Dan Y Coed school in Swansea has received national recognition for its commitment to taking learning outside the classroom and has been awarded the Gold Learning Outside the Classroom (LOtC) Mark.
The LOtC Mark is awarded by the Council for Learning Outside the Classroom, the UK-wide charity that champions all learning that happens beyond the classroom. Its work supports educators, schools and organisations who are dedicated to ensuring more children and young people have opportunities for lifechanging learning experiences beyond the classroom, whether these happen indoors or outdoors, close to home or far away.
Located on the Swansea Bay coastline, Dan Y Coed is a state-of-the-art specialist school and residential service, run by Orbis Education and Care, for children with complex needs associated with autism. Orbis is one of the UK’s leading providers of specialist schools and homes, supporting children and adults with their needs by offering education, care and in-house therapeutic support as well as adult community homes.
The school had already been delivering a lot of LOtC opportunities but worked on embedding them throughout the curriculum by taking literacy and numeracy into the outdoors. The pupils have covered three topics this year – Under the Sea, Minibeasts and Allotments – which all lent themselves to providing fantastic Outdoor Learning opportunities.
For Under The Sea, for example, pupils measured rock pools and items they had collected like seaweed, pebbles and shells to complete numeracy activities and their own pieces of art. All classes also took advantage of the school’s seaside setting and visited different beaches on the Gower with some pupils exploring shipwrecks and another pupil also being awarded 2nd prize for his unique photo of the Helvetia in Rhossili for the 75-year anniversary for the Gower Society.
Pupils visited allotments to learn about plants and photosynthesis and held a whole school litter pick with the Gower Seal Group. They also took part in some volunteering events at the National Botanic Gardens, planting apple trees to create a Celtic Orchard with their names on a plaque for posterity and, among other things, visited the community farm in Swansea to learn how to care for animals.
Dan Y Coed’s Deputy Head Claire Williams said: “As a school we are absolutely thrilled with our Gold Mark for Learning Outside the Classroom at Dan Y Coed. Pupils and staff all fully embraced the journey of developing our school as a provision for LOtC and have had such fantastic experiences which have both broadened our young people’s interests and horizons as well as developing their skills and resilience.
“As a result, the progress made by pupils over the last year was incredible, not just with attainment across the curriculum but, even more significantly, with the social and communication skills of pupils throughout the school and the wider community, particularly within families. This in turn led to a noticeable improvement in well-being, self-esteem and confidence by all stakeholders, especially by the young people themselves.
“The process has now provided us with a solid foundation to build on our Careers and Work-Related Experiences whilst continuing to further drive our LOtC standards and provision to benefit the lives and outcomes of our pupils at Dan Y Coed.”
Director of Education Lucy Pottinger added: “Being awarded the Gold LOtC Mark is a fantastic achievement for all the staff at Dan Y Coed. It’s a testament to all the hard work that’s been put in to ensure our students have access to vital opportunities to learn outside the classroom. We’re thrilled to get official recognition for our efforts, and we look forward to continuing to embed LOtC within our school curriculum to help even more students achieve their potential.”
Dr Anne Hunt, Chief Executive of Council for Learning Outside The Classroom said: “Learning outside the classroom has many proven educational benefits as well as providing some of the most memorable experiences in a child’s school life. Achieving the Gold LOtC Mark demonstrates that Dan Y Coed is committed to developing and delivering genuinely valuable learning outside the classroom experiences for their children and young people and I congratulate them on achieving this award.”
For more information about our education and care services visit: www.orbis-group.co.uk