Cowley opens new outdoor classroom

St Helens Councillors David Baines and Anthony Burns were present as Cowley International College officially opened a new outdoor classroom in Cowley Woods, a woodland area within the school’s grounds.

Part of Cowley Woods has been developed into an outdoor learning space with the help of the Mersey Forest, who assisted with the installation of a clear open space within the woods, pathways, including wheelchair friendly access, as well as a seated area.

The new classroom will be used by the school on a daily basis for outdoor learning across a number of different academic subjects, as well as being a space to help improve students’ mental health and wellbeing.

Principal of Cowley International College, Mr Cormack said: “We are delighted to officially open this outdoor classroom, which will provide students with a wonderful learning space and allow them to experience the great outdoors.

“Research shows that being outside and taking in the fresh air is positive for wellbeing, which is another really important factor in providing this offering for our students.

“The College is extremely grateful for the support from Dave Armson from Mersey Forest for enabling this to happen at Cowley.”

Students have already been busy using the new facilities, with researchers from Manchester Metropolitan University working on a ‘Voice of the Future’ project that involves collaborating with children and young people to re-imagine treescapes.

Asked about the new outdoor learning space, one student said: “Being outdoors makes me happy. It is nice to be outside with the wildlife and in the fresh air.”

Another student added: “I really like this outdoor area as it is really calming and relaxing and a space where you can be creative.”

The school’s Eco-Committee will also be utilising the space as part of their weekly activities, and the group have already been building bug hotels to encourage pollination and provide a safe haven for insects.

Miss Meredith, Sustainability Leader at Cowley, explained: “The Eco-Committee is an important part of the school community and is continuing to grow with more and more students joining us, so it’s great for us to have this fantastic new facility to encourage the students to take care of the environment around us.

“The students have big plans for how best to use the outdoor classroom and we’re really excited to start using and developing it further.”

After the official unveiling, students took part in a number of activities including nature finding and making animals out of bamboo that will be hung on the trees to help decorate the learning space.

St Helens Star reporter, Simon Mulligan, captured the new outdoor learning space and the peace and tranquility it can help offer students.