Outdoor learning

At Copthill, the outdoors isn't an 'add on' to school life;  it's an integral part of the school's teaching philosophy.  Every outdoor activity has a purpose and it's a great leveller for pupils.

This holistic approach is called Enriched External Learning (EEL) and it permeates all areas of school life for all age groups.  It's 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 our pupil's childhoods and extend well into adult life. This is what we fervently believe.  This is what we strive to achieve.

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

It's not every day you have the chance to feed and clean alpacas, chickens, dogs, donkeys, guinea pigs, rabbits and sheep, and to collect and sell the chicken eggs; but you do at Copthill.

Pupils from all year groups help to look after the animals on the school's animal farm.  Year 6 pupils are responsible for walking the school dogs Harley and Piper.  These daily opportunities are all part of growing up and give pupils the chance to take responsibility and to provide reliable help. 

Adventurous activities

The joy of adventurous activities encourage pupils to challenge themselves and occasionally to have mild but carefully considered 'dangerous experiences', which require them to assess risk. 

"The children have a healthy respect for fire as they know what they're doing with it.  They know it's not just a thing to burn, it's there to give them warmth and comfort, for making hot chocolate or to cook on.  If they didn't learn about these skills in the Forest School, they migh not know that".  Head of Forest School. 

Upper School pupils (Years 4-6) experience numerous adventurous activities ranging from camping, climbing, raft building, survival skills to team building.  These are delivered during activity afternoons, residential trips and within the PE curriculum.  

Outdoor camps and cookery

If you're a pupil in Years 2-6, the opportunity to go camping with your classmates during term time, or as part of Summer School will live long in the memory as a wonderful childhood experience.  

Click here to experience the Year 5 campover yourself

With the arrival of the Autumn term, Year 5 pupils can look forward to attending a residential bushcraft course in Hertfordshire.  This outdoor experience 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 childhood joys for all pupils.  

Outdoor holiday courses run throughout all half terms, Summer holidays and most other holiday periods. 

Popular activities include outdoor and adventure camps, Forest School, bushcraft, parent and child bushcraft days and sports weeks.

Summer School

Summer School activities
Copthill Clubhouse Nursery, Pre school and Reception;  arts and crafts, outdoor fun, walks and games throughout the Summer.
Forest School Years 1-6;  practical activities including a specific construction project, cooking their own lunches, fire-lighting, using tools, river activities and den-making.
Summer Camp Years 1-6;  a carousel of activities each day including sports, outdoor activities, fun games, team building, problem solving, dance, drama and music.
Creative Camp Years 4-6;  external providers deliver different crafts including days devoted to glasswork, wet felting, cookery and finishing with a chocolate making day.
Outdoor and Adventure Camp Years 5&6;  three off site days at Tallington Lakes enjoying kayaking, raft building, skiing, orienteering, paddleboarding, snowboarding, abseiling, climbing, wind surfing, zorbing and banana boating. Two days at Copthill 'wild camping' and honing skills in bush craft, camp craft, fire lighting, cooking, trap making, shooting and making their own overnight bivvy shelter.
On2Court Years 1-6;  tennis and multisport Summer Camp for beginners or those wishing to improve their skills in tennis, football, rounders, cricket and mini Olympics.
Activ8 Sports Week Years 1-6;  a lively week run at Copthill by a professional sports team, providing a range of sports, physical activities and fun themed games.
Netball Dynamix Years 1-6;   netball tuition run at Copthill by experienced New Zealand coaches, developing netball skills, shooting, defence, match play, team building and lots of interactive fun.
RucksNMauls Rugby Camp Years 1-6;  an intensive week of disciplined and competitive rugby training run at Copthill with expert Southern Hemisphere coaches, which culminates in learning to perform the New Zealand All Blacks Haka!

Residential trips abroad

Every Year 6 pupil is invited to join the annual Easter trip to Warsy in France. Pupils have the opportunity to stay at a magnificent chateau and absorb French culture, practice their language skills and experience the joy of their first school trip abroad. Activities also include a day trip to Paris and a moving visit to a WW1 battlefield and cemetery.


Copthill outdoors

Nursery and Pre school

Outdoor experiences

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 setting out from their own forest chalet to enjoy the Forest School.  Being outdoors in parts of the school's more remote natural areas is good for young pupils' wellbeing.  It allows them to gain confidence in unfamiliar surroundings.  By creating physical challenges we develop pupils' natural curiosity and add to their knowledge.

Lower School Reception -Year 3

Outdoor creative curriculum

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

Upper School Years 4-6

Outdoor learning

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 outdoor 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 cookery classes.