Mud, Glorious Mud is the key to learning for Erpingham pre-schoolers
- Credit: Archant
A taste of al fresco style learning, a plate of wildlife-themed cake and a bowl of freshly dug mud were on the menu for north Norfolk MP Norman Lamb, when he arrived at a village school to open a new outdoor pre-school centre.
Named Little Brown Hare, the pre-school is based in a heated wooden amphitheatre in the grounds of Erpingham Primary School, near Cromer, with tots also having access to a yurt, a mud kitchen and wooden changing and toilet buildings.
Mr Lamb shook hands with pupils, planted a tree and cut a cake, before being surprised by five-year-old Year 1 pupil Simon, who handed him a red plastic bowl of mud as he chatted to guests.
Little Brown Hare, which has taken six months to complete, offers outdoor-based learning through activities ranging from tree climbing and birdwatching, to campfire storytelling and studying the natural environment.
It is run by pre-school manager Rebecca Millin and deputy manager Sas Gilding, who is a qualified Forest Schools practioner.
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Angie Hamilton, who is executive head teacher of the Blue Sky Federation – made up of Northrepps and Erpingham primary schools - said Little Brown Hare aimed to build on the two schools' successful Forest Schools provision, offering an holistic approach to developing children's confidence and self-esteem by allowing them unlimited access to the natural environment.
'There is a whole raft of research about the huge benefits of outdoor learning,' she added. 'And we want to focus on children's mental health and wellbeing, give them a smooth transition to school and involve parents, who have the opportunity to stay and join in activities.'
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The pre-school already has a handful of children on its books and staff are hoping to increase numbers in the near future.
Guests at the opening included staff, governors, local residents and Erpingham Primary pupils, with a group of Northrepps Primary pre-schoolers also bussed in to join in the celebrations.
Congratulating the school on the new centre, Mr Lamb said: 'It is a fantastic site and a wonderful place for children to start their school career.'