Killylea PS outdoor play

Killylea Primary School embracing the great outdoors

Killylea Primary School is well renowned for its outdoor play provision, having shared good practice with over 60 local schools.

The school has used their wellbeing money to purchase resources for their Key Stage 1 and 2 playgrounds including sand and water play, a mud kitchen, perspex easels and musical instruments so that all pupils in the school have opportunities for high quality play.

Now that the physical aspects of their outdoor provision are in place, a more focussed approach is being given to the incorporation of outdoor learning throughout the whole school.

Numeracy and literacy lessons are lots of fun outdoors with pupils more likely to be counting using natural resources like sticks, stones, pinecones and mud. Tables and chairs take the place of clipboards and logs! Staff painted a 1-20 snake on the playground and an empty ladder with 10 spaces.  These are used for number recognition, number patterns, addition etc.

Pupils are encouraged to write by making plan drawings of their constructions and labelling them. These are then laminated along with the photo of the finished model and can then be used by other children to build the same model or improve. 

Mrs Pam Lowry, Principal is a strong advocate for the benefits of play and recently became a director of Playboard NI, added,

“Children are more creative in their play outside. Nature stimulates their senses, yet calms their mind. We find that outdoor play encourages more social interaction, greater concentration and general well-being.”

A change of topic in Foundation Stage to “The Great Outdoors” gave opportunities to incorporate outdoor learning. From the beginning of the academic year, as a mitigation of the pandemic, staff endeavoured to teach outside as much as possible. To date, Foundation Stage classes have been out 90% of the time, Key Stage 1 about 50% and Key Stage 2 less but with regular outdoor breaks to practice mental maths using tables painted along the driveway and to ensure rooms were given a chance to be well ventilated.

Staff at the school make use of their magnificent grounds around the school and local village to support their learning and teaching. While outdoor learning may demand more creativity than photocopying a worksheet, the pupils of Killylea Primary School are certainly enjoying all the benefits!

To hear more about Killylea Primary School’s Outdoor Learning Journey, watch the interview by Principal Pam Lowry, Outdoor Learning on Education Authority’s Supporting Learning Hub.


19 March 2021