Students at Buderim’s Matthew Flinders Anglican College are walking out of their classrooms, with their teachers’ support, as they explore their College’s new Outdoor Classroom.
Flinders’ new Outdoor Classroom for its 550 Prep to Year 6 students is fringed by rainforest and features tree log seats, recycled palette tables and newly planted trees and shrubbery.
Principal Stuart Meade said the open-air classroom was an important new learning hub in the College that offered significant benefits for students’ health and wellbeing.
“Our College campus is surrounded by rainforest, so our students and College community are fortunate to spend their days amidst nature,” Mr Meade said.
“By establishing the new Flinders Primary Outdoor Classroom, we are inviting our students to connect with nature on a deeper level by engaging in learning that flows out of the classroom door,” he said.
“Recent studies in Australia have found that hands-on contact with nature in the Primary School years can play a significant role in cultivating positive mental health and wellbeing.
“What’s more, studies show that learning outside the classroom can contribute to increased creativity and to language development, as well as a sense of care of the natural environment.
“We are excited for our students to experience learning in a unique setting that supports their development.”
Head of Learning and Teaching in the Primary School Debbie Planck said outdoor learning spaces offer learning opportunities driven by the curriculum that cannot presently be replicated in classrooms.
“We are keen to witness how learning in this unique place will unleash the power and potential of our students and transform their thinking,” Mrs Planck said.
“Teachers and students will explore this space during class time, and undertake ‘hands-on’ extended learning and design thinking. Our outdoor classroom provides another learning space for students to develop our Flinders learner traits of communication, collaboration, creativity, character, citizenship and critical thinking,” she said.
“Our Outdoor Classroom will also be used during lunchtimes as students tinker, imagine, create and share ideas through our long-running Maker Spaces program set amidst the natural environment.
“The vision is for our students ‘own the learning’ in this space and to feel a sense of pride and wonder in its potential.”
Plans for future student-led programs in the outdoor space include an edible garden concept and an environment group that drives such projects as building bird boxes and native bee houses, conducting biodiversity studies and managing seed germination programs.
Flinders’ 22-hectare campus in Buderim is surrounded by rainforest and is home to diverse native species, including coffee plants, eucalyptus trees, gum trees, vines and creepers, and has a small creek that runs through.