First published in ACCESS Winter 2013 e-zine
Recognising the importance of outdoor learning is something that’s particularly valued at The British School in The Netherlands (BSN). Earlier this year, the school demonstrated its commitment to both outdoor learning and protecting the environment when it opened a brand new ‘Eco Garden’ at the Senior School, with the support of Oil and Gas Company, Saudi Aramco.
The development and planning for the garden began back in 2012 when BSN Senior School students were invited by Saudi Aramco to submit a set of proposed ideas and suggestions on what they wanted to see included within the garden. A commitment to sustainable development and the environment is something that’s firmly imbedded into the fabric of Saudi Aramco’s corporate social responsibility policy and with this in mind, the students were tasked with drafting a proposal that reflected both the company’s and school’s commitment to environmental protection, whilst also providing a learning facility that could be utilised by the school for many years to come.
After careful consideration, the student’s proposal was approved and work on the garden began in earnest at the beginning of Spring this year, however the students involvement was by no means finished. Once it had been agreed the development of the garden was to go ahead, the now well established Eco-committee, comprising both students and staff members, held a series of planning meetings with the landscapers to discuss both design and structure. The eco garden opened in June and has already proved to be a frequently used learning resource for both students and teachers.
Experiences and opportunities for outdoor learning don’t just take place within the Senior School, they’re also built into the curriculum for the BSN’s younger learners. The great outdoors is very much part of the learning experience at the school, and represents a place where exploring and taking risks run hand in hand with learning about our environment and the -natural world.
This has also been reflected in the investment the BSN’s three junior schools have recently made in their outdoor spaces, with further significant developments due in the coming year. Junior School Vlaskamp has always benefited from a vast amount of outdoor space and in the last few years considerably upgraded its Foundation Stage -playground. More recently, the play areas for Day Care, Foundation Stage and Key Stage 1 at Junior School Leidschenveen have undergone a major renovation and now feature grassy hills, secret pathways through willow structures, stepping stones, sandy areas and water features.
Plans are now also now underway to transform the entire outdoor area for children at Junior School Diamanthorst, another major -project that provides a clear example of how highly the school values both outdoor learning and supporting the environment.
The British School in The Netherlands is an independent British international school with three Junior School campuses in The Hague and a Senior School in Voorschoten. With around 2,000 students, the BSN is the largest provider of International education in the Netherlands for children aged 3 to 18.
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