Parents in the North Okanagan-Shuswap School District are getting more information on a proposed Outdoor Learning School.
A recent survey showed overwhelming interest in it and an information session is being held tomorrow night at the Sullivan Campus of Salmon Arm Secondary School.
Carl Cooper, the Director of Instruction for the school district says they’d like to start one at the South Canoe site next September.
“Primarily you receive your learning, receive your instruction outside, outdoors. So, while we have outdoor education initiatives at lots of schools where schools will go outside to an outdoor classroom or spend time outside, at this school the primary source of instruction would be outside for most of the time.”
Cooper says teachers would use nature itself as the source of some of their instruction.
” We have about 15, 16 research documents that shows that it boosts attention, that it boosts academic performance and that we get improved engagement from students.”
Outdoor schools have been in place in Maple Ridge and Sooke for about 10 years.
No decision has been made on what age range or grade level would be included.
“because we want to get an intent to register. We want to get the actual numbers of students and grade levels. From that we want to shape the age level of the school.”
Cooper says the plan is to start small and perhaps start with 4 and 5 division schools with about 120 to 150 students.
As for for the qualifications for teachers to be able to conduct classes outside, work is already underway on that.
“We have a number of teachers now in many of our schools that have outdoor education certification, had that as a focus for them when they were doing their training in university. We already have a number teachers there. We also have a number of teachers taking additional training.”
Carl Cooper says outdoor education is one of the biggest growing areas in education.
He adds that a number of speakers are involved in professional development days working with staff.