Our recent drive to immerse our children in the natural world, through engaging OPAL opportunities at playtimes, is not accidental. We are passionate about encouraging our pupils to, “see the natural world as a place of wonder, exploration, reflection and self-discovery” (Vision for Education 2016). A place they will learn to respect and nurture as they grow, develop and become ‘stewards’ not owners of God’s creation.
However our decision to improve outdoor play and learning goes even further than this. As we live in an age where mental health is becoming a growing concern, we fully embrace the benefits of nature upon children’s wellbeing and mental health. A report published in February 2016, ‘A review of nature-based interventions for mental health care’ shows that taking part in nature-based activities helps people who are suffering from mental ill-health and can contribute to a reduction in levels of anxiety, stress, and depression. We are keen to address current issues, and as such we have initiated a mental health school improvement plan to educate our children on recognizing the signs of mental health and understanding that ‘It’s OK not to be OK’, another example of how we are committed to developing the whole child.