A Lambeth scheme to raise achievement and improve children’s well-being, confidence, communication, and social skills by using nature and the outdoors is to be offered nationwide.
The Natural Thinkers programme has been developed by Lambeth Council and the Lambeth Early Action Partnership (LEAP). In Lambeth it started in 2015as a programme for very young children aged 0-3, but it has proved so successful it is now being offered across the country for children 0-11. LEAP aims to leave a legacy of lasting change, and to share the benefits of its programmes with families beyond Lambeth. Having demonstrated how well Natural Thinkers works over the past 6 years, they’re now in a position to roll the programme out more widely.
Word from the Cabinet
Cllr Ed Davie, Lambeth Council Cabinet Member for Children and Young People, said: “Children thrive when connecting with each other and with the natural world so I am really proud that Lambeth is leading the way in creating new opportunities to make this happen in a systematic way.”
With the pandemic encouraging a growing awareness of the benefits of accessing nature and the enjoyment that comes with being outdoors, Natural Thinkers is the perfect tool for educators of all age groups.
Taking the curriculum outside
Natural Thinkers provides staff with a framework to develop ways for children to access the outdoors, and take all aspects of the curriculum outside with accessible activities.
Motivated and inspired
So far Natural Thinkers has trained over 300 practitioners in 100 early years settings and primary schools to deliver high-quality outdoor learning. Schools who have taken on the programme often report how children become calmer, more motivated to join in, gain confidence and are inspired to talk about what they are doing while raising achievement. Sharron Richmond, Pastoral and Wellbeing Officer at Holy Trinity CE Primary School in Tulse Hill attended the training and said: “Being outdoors has hugely restorative effects, especially post-lockdown.”
Pushing for the very best for children
Abrilli Phillip, Director of Education and Learning at Lambeth Council joined colleagues for the first session run for both Lambeth teams and those outside the borough catering to children of all ages and said: “I’m so proud of our Lambeth teams for pioneering this unique approach and constantly pushing for the very best for our children. They’ve shown what can be done by thinking and acting creatively and I’m really excited to start sharing their success more widely, to help more children grow and thrive.”
Lambeth at the forefront
LEAP’s Director, Laura McFarlane, said: “Our Lambeth teams are at the forefront of this approach and we’re keen to empower other communities, families and providers to benefit from what we’ve learned.”