‘Inspiring Outdoor Educator of the Year’ award for Spring Grove teacher
The Head of Forest School at Spring Grove School in Wye has recently received a prestigious award at the Council for Learning Outside the Classroom’s annual conference. Prep 3 teacher, Paul Curnow, was voted the ‘Inspiring Outdoor Educator of the Year’ by the CLOtC for his outstanding contribution to learning outside the classroom – a fantastic recognition of the quality of learning provided by all of the Forest School team at Spring Grove School.
The Council for Learning Outside the Classroom was set up in 2008 to champion learning outside the classroom. Their aim is for every child to be given the opportunity to experience life and lessons beyond the classroom walls as a regular part of growing up. Since the start of Forest School in 2016, children at Spring Grove have been heading out into woodland close to the school, and have recently moved to a permanent site.
During the first year of Forest School, Spring Grove earned The Woodland Trust’s Green Tree School Scheme’s Bronze, Silver and Gold Awards. The Platinum Award followed in 2017, and in the same year the school achieved two ‘firsts’ after being recognised as the first independent school in the UK, as well as the first setting of any type in Kent, to be approved by the Forest School Association (FSA) as a recognised Forest School Provider.
Forest School gives young people the opportunity to develop self-learning through natural play and positive outdoor experiences. The children at Spring Grove School learn about tree and plant life and how to protect them, fire safety and campfire cooking, shelter building, safe use of tools, woodland crafts and more. All children from Reception to Year 6 now regularly take part in Forest School activities, and outdoor learning is an integral part of the school curriculum.
Paul Curnow brings a wide-ranging experience to his role as Forest School Leader: he spent 22 years in the RAF before retraining as a teacher, and has led Spring Grove’s Forest School team since its inception. He said: “I am clearly delighted to be recognised by the CLOtC for the achievements of Spring Grove’s Forest School but could not have done any of it without the huge support of colleagues, parents and volunteers. Outdoor learning offers so many diverse benefits: helping children grow in confidence and resilience, supporting them in their academic development and it is also great fun. I have been so blessed to get the opportunity to deliver it at Spring Grove School as part of such a great team.”
Spring Grove School’s Headmaster, Mr Bill Jones, commented: “We are fortunate in being located close to resources perfect for a Forest School programme, we have an ethos that allows the development of the whole child within an enriched curriculum including wonderful art, drama, music, sport and outdoor education and we have outstanding teachers who inspire the children through their skill and enthusiasm. Paul Curnow epitomises that spirit.”