A range of outdoor learning, play and Forest School projects run at Cyncoed campus designed to promote social inclusion, learning and development through community cohesion co-ordinated by Senior Lecturer Chantelle Haughton. Student volunteers from BA (Hons) Educational Studies and Early Childhood Studies work with The Outdoor Learning Team to provide different woodland activities throughout the year for local children and practitioners.
Lee Thomas, Head Teacher at Meadowlane Primary School: ‘ Pupils and staff love to visit Queens Wood to work within this rich learning landscape.. These projects provide an exciting and unique development opportunity for children and practitioners. It’s also significant in nurturing positive attitudes towards lifelong learning that our pupils experience an encouraging connection with a local Higher Education setting.’
These on-going bespoke projects run to suit the interests and needs of participants some on a weekly basis, termly or annual basis and involving practitioners, pupils and parents from local primary schools, secondary schools, health care settings, home education groups, and connections with local Community First areas.
Jessica Hamer (Year 3 Student on Educational Studies and Early Childhood Studies): ‘I have been volunteering alongside the lecturers every week throughout my time studying at Cardiff Metropolitan University. It’s full of fun and the children involved get so much from it. Volunteering on these projects has provided me with valuable learning opportunities beyond the lecture theatres where I can reflect on experiences and observations to find linkage between theory and practice. I have undertaken extra training related to working in the outdoors and now volunteer with the teachers in school also.’
The Cardiff School of Education continues to collaborate with an extensive list of external stakeholders and has engaged with local charitable trusts to further strengthen our activities within the local community. Millennium Stadium Charitable Trust, Simon Gibson Charitable Trust, and the Waterloo Foundation have collectively donated generously towards the funding of the upcoming construction of the outdoor classroom with a vision to extend the existing community practice.
Beth Warwick, Inclusion Manager at Lakeside Primary School: 'A group of pupils from year 3 to year 6 and class teacher Nic Rhodes visit campus each week for an after school club to take part in outdoor activities. Led by Chantelle and supported by a committed group of student volunteers, the pupils develop their social and emotional skills in a fun and relaxed environment. The children taking part in this club have shown a great improvement in confidence and communication skills over a short space of time- what a great opportunity! We are within walking distance of the university and so we are delighted to be working with the Outdoor Learning Team; a number of projects are on-going involving pupils of different ages and their families.'
As the national charity for children's play in Wales, we are a huge believer in getting children playing outdoors. That’s why we are supporting Project Wild Thing. We are delighted that the Education Studies and Early Childhood Studies team hosted a community screening of the documentary involving students, local organisations, practitioners and families. I am pleased that it helped to raise awareness of the great importance of children's access to playing. Playing contributes to the wellbeing and resilience of human beings - particularly young ones. Having welcoming places, enough time and the company of others to play with every day, is of great consequence to all children and young people - as adults we need to foster environments that support this.’
Within the university community, Chantelle Haughton works with Olivia Kotsifa from the Cardiff School of Art & Design to collaborate on projects which encourage students from Art and Design to work with students from Early Childhood Studies. They recently presented at the Future Generations Conference, with an aim to provoke art and design students to consider ways to work with outdoors in nature as a possible theme within their independent projects.