TG Escapes Blog

The setting for an Outdoor Classroom is a crucial consideration

by TG Escapes | May 28, 2013 | Blog, Education

Make a ‘journey’ to your new outdoor classroom – The setting can be motivational too!

At The Learning Escape we know how the siting and landscape associated with new classrooms can have a significant impact on children and staff.  We have all heard how many children recognise fast food logos but cannot identify common living plants or animals and  82% of teenagers are more likely to associate 'blackberry’ with a phone rather than a fruit, according to a YouGov poll.

Setting the Learning Escape into the landscape
The setting, the route to the new building and the learning environment around it is just as important as the internal environment and can inspire learning, especially so in tight urban settings.  For this reason we have teamed up with Felicity Robinson, Landscapes Naturally, who has over 20yrs experience of supporting and designing outdoor learning and play. There are few landscape architects who combine such a strong understanding of education, experience of teaching  and the particular issues in schools, with professional practice of landscape design in schools.

Problem Solving
All school grounds and building projects can be improved following a thorough briefing process and an experienced overview of the site, its problems, opportunities and school aspirations. Even the tightest urban sites, where it may not be thought that there are any/many options, can benefit from a site assessment before selecting the location of new classrooms. The dynamics of play can be positively or negatively affected, for example, so an experienced outside eye can see opportunities that school staff, familiar with the site, can easily miss. And, if you already have your new building on site, there are ways to add value too.

Low Cost 'playable' idea for the corner of a field.

Low Cost 'playable' idea for the corner of a field.

Getting the children involved
Schools often take advantage of the whole ‘new building’ process to engage their children through school council, and some go further and use curriculum linked projects in their classes. However this can be taken much further from inception to completion, with expert support. The Landscapes Naturally website has examples of children taking part in problem solving, site surveying, design development, interviewing contractors (that’s a good challenge for us!) and even getting involved in hands-on construction too. (all age appropriate and assessed for risk/benefit of course). This level of involvement, as agents of change,  gives children (primary and secondary) a real sense of the whole process of construction, and a great sense of pride in their achievement and the positive impact they have had on their school.

Learning outdoors
Learning outdoors is essential for some aspects of science and DT curriculum delivery - some elements really can't be learnt effectively indoors!  We need to give children memorable learning experiences rooted in real life. Even relatively minor interventions in the landscape around new buildings can offer a valuable teaching and learning resource, as well as stimulating play environments.

For more information about Landscapes Naturally, case studies and blog examples of outdoor learning in action, take a look at

About the author

TG Escapes
Providing net-zero timber frame buildings since 2003. As a gold member of the Structural Timber Association we are fully compliant to design, manufacture and build giving us full control of the quality of all the timber components in our system.

More posts from our blog

The Challenges Facing SEND Schools Across the UK

In the UK, the demand for Special Educational Needs and Disabilities (SEND) support is rising dramatically, posing significant challenges for mainstream and SEND schools alike. As these institutions grapple with staffing shortages, funding constraints, and unsuitable...

read more

The Key Challenges Facing Independent Schools

We’re excited to be appearing at the ISBA conference taking place at the ICC Wales from Monday 20th to Wednesday 22nd. Our team have worked with independent schools across the UK on stunning bespoke buildings, featuring a turnkey design and build process,...

read more

How Educational Environments Impact Mental Health

While mental health is a key focus for our team across the year, with our designers utilising biophilic designs to reduce stress for students and staff in our education buildings, Mental Health Awareness Week is a special time to come together and...

read more