Outdoor learning



At Copthill, the outdoors is not an ‘add on’ to school life; it is an integral part of the school's teaching philosophy.

This holistic approach is called Enriched External Learning (EEL) and it permeates all areas of school life for all age groups. It is designed to encourage pupils to benefit from the challenges, opportunities and wonder of the outdoors.

We believe that the inspirational opportunities, as well as the obvious benefits for health, mental wellbeing and fitness, will leave a lasting impression on their childhood and well into adult life.

When I started at Copthill I had no idea how many opportunities I would have, but knew I was going to have fun when I skinned a rabbit and made a shelter to sleep in during my first week at school.

Year 5 girl



Animal farm

Every day pupils from all year groups help to look after the animals on the school's animal farm.  Pupils look forward to feeding and cleaning the animals including alpacas, chickens, dogs, donkeys, guinea pigs, rabbits and sheep, and to collecting and selling the chicken eggs.  Year 6 pupils are responsible for walking the school dogs.  These daily opportunities give pupils the chance to take responsibility and to provide reliable help.


Adventurous activities

Upper School pupils (Years 4-6) experience adventurous activities from camping, climbing, raft building, survival skills to team building.  These are delivered during activity afternoons and residential trips, and within the PE curriculum.  Adventurous activities encourage pupils to challenge themselves and occasionally to have mild but carefully considered 'dangerous experiences', which require them to assess risk.

Outdoor camps and cookery

Pupils from Years 2-6 are offered camping, either as part of Summer school, or as specific year group camps during term time.

Year 5 pupils attend a residential bushcraft course in Hertfordshire, which provides a wonderful opportunity to learn new skills and to develop self confidence in challenging surroundings.  Learning to build a fire, to cook and boil water are highlights for all pupils.  Happy childhood days with teachers and friends.

Outdoor holiday courses run throughout all half terms and during the school holidays.  Popular courses include sport, Forest School and bushcraft.


Nursery and Pre school

Outdoor provision is an essential element of our youngest children's Copthill experience. This can be going out to feed the farm animals, using the outdoor classroom or attending  Forest School. Being outdoors in parts of the school's more remote natural areas is good for young pupils’ wellbeing and allows them to gain confidence in unfamiliar surroundings.  By creating physical challenges we develop pupils' natural curiosity and add to their knowledge.

Setting out for daily adventures from their own Forest School chalet, children are encouraged to be involved in imaginative projects using natural materials. 

Outdoor creative curriculum

Lower School (Reception - Year 3)

Our pupils' weekly timetable includes outdoor learning sessions with Forest School staff.  These sessions provide pupils with practical and engaging ways to learn, reinforcing the classroom learning objectives in art, science, geography, history and drama and other areas of the curriculum.

Pupils are encouraged to demonstrate creativity, teamwork, reflectiveness and resilience, all of which are characteristics of a Copthill Learner. Through new experiences, pupils will problem solve, gain confidence and develop an excitement for the outdoors. 

Outdoor learning

Upper School (Years 4 - 6)

Upper School pupils have regular outdoor sessions covering all areas of the curriculum.  These are designed to enhance a learning objective in a fun and stimulating way, by undertaking science experiments, geography field work or history exploration.

Exciting experiences include Roman cooking, archaeology, rock studies, scientific investigations and weaving. Pupils are encouraged to consolidate their learning and relate concepts to real life situations. Pupil highlights include the French and Spanish outdoor cookery classes.