22nd July 2021 — “This is fantastic news!” said Headmaster, Stuart Douch. “My thanks go to all our staff who have made this brilliant recognition possible. They have worked so hard to teach our children to ‘think green’, to love their outdoor world and to harness our natural milieu to bring curriculum-based learning to life.”
He added that Sompting Abbotts was increasingly earning the reputation as the school that ‘does outdoor learning’.
“We're delighted it has been noticed. Learning about sustainability and climate change is part of everyday life at our school. Our grass-roots ethos is that if children lose contact with the natural world, they won't fight for it.”
The school, which is set within 30 acres inside the South Downs National Park, has no concrete playgrounds. The play area is green space, with trees to climb, woodland to explore, and fresh air to breathe. It's somewhere teachers say: “Let’s do this lesson in the sun today.”
All children in the Pre-Prep receive twice-weekly Forest School-style outings to the woods. Head of Pre-Prep Mrs Kirsty Miles said: “Right from the Nursery stage, our children collect wood to build their own fires, learn to make tools from natural materials, and build dens.
“They dig in the mud, identify creepy-crawlies with magnifying glasses and iPads, and can recognise plant and leaf shapes. Spring, we grab nets and use our big pond for wet habitat science learning to discover water boatmen, tadpoles and dragonfly nymphs.”
Mr Douch said: “Yes, our children get messy; stung by nettles and get clothes caught on brambles. But it’s part of helping them to develop resourcefulness, resilience and autonomy.”
The school also has an apple orchard, Edwardian greenhouses and a vegetable garden where the children help grow tomatoes, onions and peppers for school lunches. The Pre-Prep use the home-grown fruit for numeracy, cookery lessons and art.
Prep-age pupils continue to ‘think green’. Teachers harness the natural milieu to bring curriculum-based learning to life. They use the grounds and its multiple habitats and eco-systems for bird watching, science, geography, history and art and for other applications such as field study and data collection.
The award for which Sompting Abbotts has been shortlisted is given to the school that most impresses the judges for making “a decisive and positive contribution to the environment”.