My name is Paddy Hayes and I’ve recently joined the Friends of Barnes Common to lead on Outdoor Learning. I spent the first years of my education career working in a London secondary school frustrated at the lack of willingness of school leadership to engage with outdoor learning. Having decided to leave mainstream education 3 years ago and get my hands dirty teaching and learning outdoors, encouragingly we are beginning to see a shift towards more acceptance of the need for people to be familiar with their local natural environment, and the benefits that this brings – wellbeing, social, academic and more. Now more than ever people of all ages are feeling the need to have a closer connection with nature. Barnes Common, Vine Road Recreation Ground, and Leg o’ Mutton Nature Reserve are amazing public spaces where people can develop their understanding of wildlife and their connection with nature. If you’re a lifelong learner, keen to know more about the environment and how to protect it, then what better place to start than on your doorstep?
Our outdoor activities aim to be social, fun, and informative. The needs of the local community are changing in response to the environmental and social issues we face, and we hope to grow and adapt our offering too. In the next year we will be adding new activities to our existing successful events which will help everyone to gain an understanding of the species and spaces around them, and empower you with ways to protect them.
But you can get involved straight away! Younger learners can develop their sense of adventure and experience outdoor activities at our monthly Yaffles club, running October to June. They can get their hands dirty and expand their understanding of where their food comes from through our Growing Together sessions at Vine Road. Families can learn together at our holiday Family Learning sessions during the school breaks. Teenagers can get stuck in and complete their Duke of Edinburgh volunteering experience, giving back to the natural environment and local community. Learners of all ages can learn to recognise the species we share our neighbourhood with on our regular weekend walks and talks.
Our learning events kick off on 22nd of January with our Winter Walk where we will be looking at the trees around the common. Over the coming year we will be sharing a busy calendar of Lifelong Learning activities where people can experience the outdoors in a safe, calm and social way. Check out our website, follow us on Instagram and Twitter, or just pop down to us on Vine Road and check out our notice boards to stay up to date with what’s on! For more information and to get involved in any of the activities above then please contact me on [email protected]. If any parents or school staff are interested in formal learning opportunities, get in touch with me to learn more about curriculum linked sessions.