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Darlinghurst Academy hits the ‘Gold Standard’ for outdoor learning


A Leigh-on-Sea Primary School has won a prestigious award for its innovative approach to teaching children about the world around them.


Darlinghurst Academy is just one of three schools in the whole of Essex to be awarded the Gold Accreditation Award for Learning outside the Classroom.


Uniquely, it is the only school in Southend to have its own small holding, complete with an allotment for vegetables, that is also home to a number of ducks, chickens and rabbits.


Not only does it boast the allotment and small holding, but Darlinghurst also has a fire pit, housed in ‘Hagrid’s Hut’, a double-decker bus for outdoor learning activities and six beach huts with their very own ‘beach’?!


“The Inspector from the Council for Learning Outside the Classroom visited us for a day and was greatly impressed with our approach to outdoor learning,” says Darlinghurst’s Principal, Emma Nicholls.


As the title suggests, learning outside the classroom involves using alternative spaces and places in whic h to teach children about different subjects. Outdoor Learning specialist, Ms Arnold works with the different year groups to inspire the children to gain independence, social and communication skills by using the animals to connect with the children.


“We’re very fortunate as the beach huts have their own little man-made beach in which the kids can play in during the summer, a large pond and lots of lovely green space where they can explore, let their imaginations and own interests lead their learning. It is a wonderful environment,” Mrs Nicholls added.


In their report, the Inspector note that “Darlinghurst is leading the way in Learning Outside the Classroom, and is a fantastic beacon to other schools.” They added: “The Learning Outside the Classroom areas provide different learning opportunities from the pond to the animals and the allotment. It is quite clear that a lot of dedication has been made to make Learning Outside the Classroom at Darlinghurst part of their everyday values.”


As a consequence of this award, Darlinghurst will now be able to secure significant funding for its staff to be further trained to excel at outdoor learning.

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