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Innovative approach to learning pays off for north Norfolk primary school

PUBLISHED: 15:47 02 April 2018 | UPDATED: 15:49 02 April 2018

Erpingham Primary School head teacher Angie Hamilton with a pupil in the Little Brown Hare outdoor pre-school centre. Photo: KAREN BETHELL

Erpingham Primary School head teacher Angie Hamilton with a pupil in the Little Brown Hare outdoor pre-school centre. Photo: KAREN BETHELL

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An innovative approach learning has paid dividends for a north Norfolk village primary school, which has just been given an across-the-board ‘good’ Ofsted rating.

Erpingham Primary School, which has been praised by Ofsted for its outdoor learning provision. Photo: KAREN BETHELLErpingham Primary School, which has been praised by Ofsted for its outdoor learning provision. Photo: KAREN BETHELL

Youngsters at Erpingham Primary School regularly spend time out of doors, with parents, grandparents and younger siblings invited to join in open air activities including campfire and den-building as part of Forest Schools for Grown Ups and Forest Schools for toddlers schemes.

Around a third of pupils are part of a flexi-learning scheme, which aims to bridge the gap between home education and school.

Erpingham Primary School, which offers Forest Schools sessions for pupils, parents and grandparents. Photo: KAREN BETHELLErpingham Primary School, which offers Forest Schools sessions for pupils, parents and grandparents. Photo: KAREN BETHELL

Responsibility for academic progress is shared with parents, with flexi-learning pupils spending at least three days a week at school and the rest of the time working at home.

Erpingham Primary’s pre-school, Little Brown Hare, which is based in a heated wooden amphitheatre in the school grounds, also offers a wide range of outdoor learning opportunities, with under fives given a chance to take part in activities ranging from tree climbing and birdwatching, to campfire storytelling.

Erpingham Primary School, which has been praised by Ofsted for its outdoor learning provision. Photo: KAREN BETHELLErpingham Primary School, which has been praised by Ofsted for its outdoor learning provision. Photo: KAREN BETHELL

Head teacher Angie Hamilton, who, as leader of the Blue Sky Federation partnership, is also head at nearby Northrepps Primary School, said the Ofsted report acknowledged the school’s ethos of “bringing learning to life”.

“Teachers work extremely hard to plan exciting topics, the children respond well to the opportunities offered to them and parents are very supportive,” she said. “Together, we have created a unique school which offers a stimulating environment for all.”

In her report, inspector Julie Winyard praised Erpingham Primary’s Forest School provision, its “strong and effective” leadership team, and its “highly effective” governing body.

Particular praise was also given to the pre-school centre where, Ms Winyard said, children settled in quickly and had strong support from a well-trained manager and staff.

Mrs Hamilton said pupils and their families benefited from Erpingham Primary’s flexible approach to learning.

“Forest School is woven throughout our curriculum,” she added. “It is about building confidence through children exploring, working at their own pace and taking risks with their learning.”

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