Community Interest Company
Outdoor Nurture Nooks
Goldcrest Outdoor Education C.I.C.
380B Unthank Road,
Company number: 8626868
A frustrated child is excluded from their classroom for being disruptive, as they don’t really understand why starting a sentence with a fronted adverbial is important.
They head outside with a supportive adult to a calming, outdoor refuge, which they feel proud of because they helped create it. It’s a lovely warm day, their pond is full of strange and interesting creatures swimming around in the depths, birds flitter to and from the bird table, and the colourful plants are full of butterflies. Bees create a calming background hum.
Here the child relaxes and can reflect on what has just happened with their adult. After ten minutes they feel significantly better and can continue their learning.
This child is one of the 1 in 10, aged between 5-16, to have a clinically diagnoseable mental health problem. To us and many others, this statistic is no surprise when three-quarters of our children nowadays spend less time outdoors than some prison inmates. The calming outdoor space in which the child seeks refuge, is one of our pioneering Outdoor Nurture Nooks.
What is an Outdoor Nurture Nook?
An Outdoor Nurture Nook is created by the pupils themselves in their school grounds, on either a field or playground site*. With support they may:
build a small raised pond, bird & bat boxes, minibeast & hedgehog homes a long planter full of wildflowers and raised L shaped flower bed
arrange logs for a seating area
select areas for grass to grow long
plant wildlife friendly plants, fruit trees and a wild hedge to enclose it
establish a bird feeding station with table and feeders
Once created, a Nook will provide a calm, safe environment for pupils to sit, think or continue learning, surrounded by nature and free from the oppression they feel in the classroom. They'll have also created an oasis for wildlife in what is traditionally a sterile environment.
Why are Outdoor Nurture Nooks needed?
At school, the classroom can be a very suffocating and frustrating place for pupils with social, emotional and mental health (SEMH) needs, and those at risk of exclusion, to learn. Not only does this have a negative impact on the individuals themselves, but also their classmates, school staff and families. Many schools lack the provision to cater for them, but from our experience and research, we know that getting these children outside can have huge benefits to their mental health, reduces their risk of exclusion and improves their attitude to learning.
What does the project involve?
The project includes 8 sessions with trained Outdoor Learning staff, who will support a group of 8-10 pupils:
on a visit to a local nature reserve, to help the pupils gain inspiration for the project
gather natural resources and develop practical skills
with the construction of the features
with related outdoor activities such as shelter building, campfire cooking and orienteering. These activities are designed to promote life skills such as resilience communication and team work, to help pupils survive better in the classroom
Pond dipping and minibeast hunting equipment is also included with each Nook.
What are the long-term benefits?
The legacy of the project will be twofold: a happier, healthier school community, and the Nook itself, with the schools having a safe, nurturing space for all pupils and staff to use. If successful, we’ll continue to roll out the Nooks to other schools in the county.
Can our school have one?
We understand that school budgets are tight, which is why we are applying for funding to help schools with the full or partial cost. Get in touch for more information.
*features available for field and playground Nooks differ. Get in touch for more details.