Get kids outside to enrich their education with the help of nature

Space explorers

Somerhill uses its grounds to benefit work, sport and play

Outdoor learning is a large part of Somerhill’s ethos, which is not surprising considering their 150 acres of glorious parkland, with woodland, a large pond area, and even a lake. Used for everything from den-building and pond dipping, through bee and gardening clubs, to team-building and overnight camping, it is an intrinsic part of the school experience.

Classes of children can often be found hunting for worms, measuring angles with sticks, building Viking model houses or practising Shakespearean lines in the grounds. Sustainability is also greatly promoted through gardening clubs and a school-wide tree planting programme with the grounds staff.  

Elsewhere, the extensive sports facilities include rugby and football pitches for the winter, and cricket pitches and athletics track and field for the summer, all of which are expertly looked after by a fantastic team of grounds staff and a sophisticated drainage system to prevent water-logging. 

The school also has an enviable reputation for its much-admired extensive cross-country grounds.  

But there’s also plenty of room for play. The large treehouse complex on the edge of the woodland is a kids’ paradise and perfectly complements the play areas dotted around the site. Pre-prep children have their own outdoor play area with child-friendly artificial turf and Pre-school pupils are encouraged to explore the big outdoors and experience the fresh air with the ‘Saplings’ initiative. This is a full day outdoor programme based on the principles of Forest School that takes place in a dedicated outdoor woodland area with the facilities needed to support self-care, clean running water, a Yurt for protection when needed, and plenty of nature to provide education. 

Somerhill’s famous slogan ‘space to be…’ couldn’t be more accurate with all this wonderful room for the children to roam outdoors and just be all the amazing things they are capable of being.

Outside Chance

Barnaby Sandow, Head of School at ACS International School Cobham tells us how their outdoor spaces help children flourish

At ACS International School Cobham, we believe that getting outside to learn is highly beneficial to the development of students of all ages, improving health and wellbeing while also increasing classroom engagement. ACS Cobham is fortunate to have exceptional facilities to enable this kind of learning; our 128-acre campus is home to extensive private woodlands, secure playgrounds, all-weather activity fields, meadows and forest classrooms, as well as the best range of sports facilities on offer at any international school in Europe.

Regardless of a student’s age, the great outdoors provides an unbeatable learning canvas from which to explore, develop and grow as an inquisitive learner in today’s world. In Early childhood, emphasis is placed on the outdoors as a platform for play-based learning and exploration. During a Forest School lesson, for example, students might work together to identify specific types of plants, strengthening teamwork skills in the process. We have a long-standing outdoor learning and Forest School programme embedded into the curriculum which has been proven to benefit the learning experiences and outcomes of students. For older students, outdoor learning provides opportunities to expand their knowledge of the many types of trees and foliage in the natural world, building on their understanding of the science of nature.

For more information on ACS Cobham’s provision and to book an open day, visit

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