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Cardiff Met’s Outdoor Learning Centre Shortlisted for HEA Collaborative Award for Teaching Excellence



​The Outdoor Learning Centre at the University's School of Education and Social Policy (CSESP) has been shortlisted for a Collaborative Award for Teaching Excellence (CATE) by the Higher Education Academy (HEA).

The CATE recognises outstanding contributions to teaching by teams at higher education providers. The criteria for the CATE award are: 'excellent practice', teamwork, and the team's dissemination plan. Teams are expected to have shown they are working collaboratively, in direct parnertship with students.

Fifteen institutions have been shortlisted for the award, of which up to six teams will be awarded grants of £15,000 to disseminate their learning. The winners will be announced at the formal celebration event for the awards at Church House, Westminster, London, on 1 November 2017.

The core team at the Outdoor Learning Centre is comprised of Chantelle, Cheryl and Dylan who work as lecturers within the Early Childhood Studies and Primary Education Studies programmes at Cardiff School of Education and Social Policy. The wider multidisciplinary team encompasses a number of areas from across the university including Estates, Campus Services, students, academic and administrative staff. The team works in partnership with students, staff and the wider community to enrich, inspire and enable holistic development through innovative practice within the natural environment.

Through a variety of volunteering opportunities, and embedded activities within curriculum, the team supports and enables students to lead OLC activities, including after school clubs, development of learning resources for pupils and research, to explore how children interact with one another and their learning environment. Not only are these activities helping to develop the experience, skills and attributes of Cardiff Met students, but they are also contributing significantly to the knowledge base within the education sector, more broadly by enhancing practitioners' understanding of how children learn through student-led publications.

The team engage in playful pedagogies beyond the lecture theatres to create lively connections between theory and practice in the 'real world', to transform students learning experiences. The team also works closely with local schools, practitioners and community groups to offer opportunities for outdoor learning experiences, providing valuable opportunities for their students to gain practical experience whilst engaging with their local communities.

OLC Team Lead, Chantelle Haughton, said: "We're absolutely delighted to be shortlisted for CATE 2017. This gives us reason to reflect and celebrate how working with our students as partners impacts positively on learning, teaching, community culture and social justice within our university, local and wider communities.

"To win CATE would provide us with a fantastic opportunity to extend our practice and to disseminate our work in the hope of rolling out best practice. By making use of our wonderful patch of ancient Welsh woodland and old concrete patches, together as a community we can thrive and enjoy university life."

Dean of Learning and Teaching, Claire Morgan, said: "This is a huge achievement for the OLC at Cardiff Met, and I'd like to congratulate them on being shortlisted. It is a testament to the creativity and vision of the team that an area of unused, overgrown forest and a dull concrete patch at our Cyncoed campus have been completely transformed into spaces where children from local schools come to have fun, learn and develop aspirations to go to university themselves. They are where our own students become empowered as practitioners and researchers, and where excellent learning and teaching can flourish."

HEA Chief Executive, Professor Stephanie Marshall, added: "I am delighted that we have really high-calibre finalists for the Collaborative Award, and I congratulate each and every team.

"The new CATE finalists represent some of the very best teaching in higher education and I am sure they will inspire others as we share their innovative practice and ideas across the sector. The UK is justifiably proud of its higher education sector and its reputation is enhanced by the examples of excellent teaching highlighted by these awards."

The Outdoor Learning Centre received generous funding from the following organisations: 

  • Waterloo Foundation
  • Millennium Stadium Charitable Trust
  • Simon Gibson Charitable Trust
  • Oakdale Trust
  • Cardiff Met alumni through the Development Fund