An exciting new partnership between the University of Hull and the Dame Kelly Holmes Trust has provided students with the chance to design an outdoor learning area on the University campus which will be used by local communities across Hull.
Outdoor learning and forest schools have been recognised as an essential pedagogy (method of teaching) to support the holistic development of young children, according to the Forest School Association.
Dame Kelly Holmes Trust is a national youth sports charity which supports 11-25 year olds both in education and in the community. It uses world class athletes as mentors to deliver personal, social and emotional development programmes for young people facing disadvantage. The Get on Track for Wellbeing programme which the students have attended encourages young people to become more physically active and to get more involved in their community.
With students splitting into teams to focus on four specific community groups – families, Black Asian and minority ethnic children/young people, children aged 0-3 years old, and children with complex needs – designs for the outdoor learning area focused on creating an engaging, innovative and safe environment.
Each team was tasked with researching the main priorities of their community group in order to make the design of the outdoor learning space as accessible and practical as possible.
They were responsible for devising a project plan covering everything from the marketing of the outdoor learning area to raise awareness of it, to the health and safety practices in place within it.
Carl Duck, of the Faculty of Arts, Education and Culture at the University of Hull, and responsible for securing the relationship with the Trust, said:
Throughout this project, the students have had access to two of the Trust’s mentors, Olympic swimmer Adam Whitehead, and Commonwealth badminton silver medal winner, Jenny Wallwork. The pair have worked on youth projects with the Trust for a number of years, giving them the practical experience necessary to advise students on how they can develop the outdoor site to meet the needs of children and young people.
Adam said: “The engagement we’ve seen from the University’s students on this project has been outstanding and shows how keen they are to make a difference to members of their local community.
Andrea Fletcher, a second-year undergraduate studying for a BA in Working with Children, Young People and Families, said: “The support we’ve received from the Trust, and Adam and Jenny in particular, has been fantastic. They have drawn on their vast knowledge of working with young people to give us the belief that we could make a real impact with our project plans.
Module leader Jane Reynolds also helped to bring the challenge to life for the students. Jane said: “Engagement in the Dame Kelly Holmes Trust project provided the students with a unique experience as part of an alternative to work-based placements which were not feasible during lock down.
“When presented with the project brief to design an outdoor learning space as their assessment brief, some students were apprehensive at the scale of task. However, the team building skills they acquired in sessions and support from Adam, Jenny and Carl resulted in the teams creatively responding to the brief.
“Students presented their pitch ‘Dragons Den’ style to assessors online as part of the assessment. The learning journeys that students completed alongside their presentation task showed real gains in confidence, communication, presentation skills and independent research. All our students completed Mental Health First Aid Training as part of the project, adding further to our graduates’ employability skills.”
This student project follows an exciting range of activities that have taken place on campus – the results of the University starting an exclusive partnership with Team GB in January 2019. Earlier this year, the University announced double Olympic Champion, Max Whitlock, as its Team GB ambassador.
Additional activities include designing a 360 virtual environment package to help prepare athletes for the Tokyo 2020 Olympic Games and student internships.
Events on campus have included the I am Team GB Festival of Sport, which saw 300 people run, skip, dance and even roller-blade their way around the University of Hull campus as part of the ‘I am Team GB’ ‘5k your way’ event. Team GB athletes and Tokyo 2020 medallists Bryony Page and Bradly Sinden, shared their experiences of Tokyo 2020, bringing a taste of the Olympic Games to Hull.
There has also been a series of other Team GB appearances where athletes have shared their personal goal-setting and medal-winning experiences with students, a marketing challenge for first-year students and a family sports event for local schools and colleges.
In May, the partnership announced its Get Set To Find Your Extraordinary programme to inspire young people to achieve their own extraordinary dreams. The programme uses the real-life journeys of Team GB athletes and University of Hull students as a springboard for 11 to 18 year olds to reach their full potential.