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Newham Outdoors

The Newham Outdoors project sought to both inform and inspire schools and settings in Newham and beyond, to see the potential of using the outdoor environment to nurture children’s social and emotional development and communication skills. 

Newham Outdoors: an action research programme on effective early years practice

Newham is a unique borough.  It is the most diverse place in the country and has the youngest population in the United Kingdom.  Although Newham is an urban London local authority, children and families are never more than 10 minutes walk away from a green space.

The Newham Outdoors project sought to both inform and inspire schools and settings in Newham and beyond, to see the potential of using the outdoor environment to nurture children’s social and emotional development and communication skills. 

Prior to the commencement of the programme, all practitioners took part in training which focused on embedding the principles of effective observation, assessment and planning with a particular focus on engaging children and families in the process.

Throughout the Spring and Summer terms 2010, three separate action research projects were identified  to improve the quality of provision and practitioners’ confidence in planning for personal, social and emotional development.  In each project, practitioners were encouraged to identify a ‘buddy’ from a setting that had a similar line of enquiry.  ‘Buddies’ were expected to visit each other on a regular basis to evaluate progress, identify next steps and problem solve solutions.

Practitioners actively consulted with children throughout the project to find out what they liked and disliked about the setting’s outdoor space and how it could be improved.  Children were encouraged to capture their thoughts through drawing, photographs and film. 

Being part of a community of learners as the practitioners gained and shared knowledge, expertise and understanding was a key component to the process both within the programme group and working as a team with staff, children and families back in their settings.  This process was strengthened further by practitioners visiting and sharing their own progress with a linked setting and Newham Children’s Centres teachers working together and supporting with mentoring and encouraging self-reflective practice. 

In 2015, Newham Outdoors and Active was launched with the intention of building upon the outcomes of the 2010 project. You can view the findings of the project and access the free downloadable resources on the Outdoors and Active section of our website.