"Gardening is an active participation in the mysteries of the Universe.  By gardening, our children learn that they constitute with all growing things a single community of life" Thomas Berry'



A New Curriculum

Our vision is to create an outdoor seasonal curriculum which braids the insights of Rudolph Steiner with Ruskin Mill Trust's Practical Skills Therapeutic Education.  Furthermore, in the collaborative building of a Biodynamic farm organism, students and teachers are helping to participate in the planning and emergence of outdoor learning spaces which are purpose built for 'seed to table' projects where the rhythms of nature are all important.


We value the use of natural materials, processes and traditional knowledge and skills.  Experiential learning is at the core and problem solving is encouraged. We have a 'child led' approach, shaping the tasks and activities around the student and seizing the 'here and now', therefore always working with a child's natural curiosity.  The Seven Fields of Practice developed by The Ruskin Mill Trust underpin this curriculum.


A Seasonal Curriculum


For each main element of our PSTE curriculum we have created a seasonal long term plan.  These are shown below.  Click the images to go to a more detailed version which also includes links to the developing medium term plans.  There is flexibility built in, because at any time of the year there will be several possible activities to engage in.  The activities are predominantly designed to take place outdoors.  Each activity is split into stages, which can take place over a single day or over a series of weeks depending on the structure of the session.


The following texts provide useful information on many of the practical aspects of outdoor learning:




The Maria Thun Biodynamic Calendar 2018 Matthias Thun

Biodynamic Gardening Monty Waldin

RHS Botany for Gardeners Geoff Hodge

Growing Gardens Growing People Volume 1 Mason Vollmer

Growing Gardens Growing People Volume 2 Mason Vollmer

The Secret Life of Compost Malcolm Beck

Growing Sustainable Children - A Garden Teacher's Guide Ronni Sands and Willow Summer

The Tasks and Content of the Steiner- Waldorf Curriculum Editors Kevin Avison Martyn Rawson

A Biodynamic Manual Pierre Masson

Plants: A Very Short Introduction Timothy Walker

The Greenhouse Gardener Anne Swithinbank

Planning in the Moment With Young Children Anna Ephgrave

Explorers Atlas Piotr Wilowiecki and Michal Gaszynski

Out On The Land Bushcraft Skills from the Northern Forest Ray Mears and Lars Fålt

RHS Vegetables for the Gourmet Gardener Simon Akeroyd

The Seasons A Celebration of the English Year Nick Groom

The Golden Section Scott Olsen

Down to Earth Monty Don








'Practically Minded' is an important research document about the importance of a practical curriculum. It also contains a summary of the benefits of the working in a natural environment:


The Practitioner's Guide is a key document outlining the Ruskin Mill Trust's teaching methodology


Every Child Outdoors. This RSPB document collects together the research around the benefits of outdoor learning on the child.


The Children and Nature Network contains excellent summaries of international research concerning the impact of nature on children.



Benefits of a Green Curriculum


Curricula involving woodland ecology, gardening, horticulture and farming are increasingly found to positively affect cognitive functioning, academic performance, obesity and physical and mental health in young people e.g.


  • Children with symptoms of Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder (ADHD) are better able to concentrate after contact with nature. The same is true of people without ADHD.


  • Children with contact with nature score higher on tests of concentration and self-discipline.


  • Results for schools with outdoor education curricula show better performance on standardised measures of academic achievement in reading, writing, math, science and social studies. Classroom behavior shows improvements as well.


  • Nature buffers the impact of life's stresses on young people and helps them deal with adversity. The greater the amount of nature exposure, the greater the benefits


  • Regular exposure to nature and greenery increases self-discipline in students.


  • Contact with nature is linked to an increase in children's self-esteem.


Agricultural Literacy


  • A curriculum involving contact with agriculture makes the abstract more concrete – pupils are more likely to absorb and integrate food knowledge if they have hands-on experience of its origins. The degree of contact pupils have with the agriculture translates into a better understanding and awareness of the food chain. Furthermore, pupils with greater agricultural literacy are more likely to make better food choices.


This collection of outdoor activities has been designed by the RSPB. It includes a range of topics including minibeast safari, weather and wild writing.

These resources from The Woodland Trust are suitable for KS2 students.  They cover a wide range of outdoor learning topics.

Creative Star Learning resources for Maths, Literacy, art and music and more.


Nature Detectives. Activities from The Woodland Trust for younger students.


The Council For Learning Outside the Classroom is the organisation that has a number of aims including influencing and challenging learning outside the classroom policy and practice and raising the profile of learning outside the classroom and promoting its benefits for children.




© Brantwood Specialist School

Created by Jim Hildyard