"It’s not so much thinking outside the box as losing the box and just thinking outside."
When it comes to taking your brain for a walk, Juliet is very much an expert. And by taking your brain for a walk, we mean literally taking it out of the classroom and into the woods, the fields, the parks, the gardens, the school grounds, the playground or even simply the car park.
In this way, former Scottish primary headteacher Juliet proves to teachers the world over that the classroom is pretty much simply the place that you put your boots on before entering the space where the real learning happens – outside.
Like much in Scottish educational innovation, Juliet draws heavily on the wonderful work being carried out in the name of education in the Scandinavian countries, especially when it comes to tapping into our natural affinity with nature and with the great outdoors.
This international outlook and experience has made Juliet highly sought-after when it comes to working on national policies and strategies. She has been instrumental in bringing her expertise to initiatives such as the Scotland's Curriculum for Excellence, the Scottish Government's working group that produced the country's play strategy and the Loose Parts Play: A Toolkit project, recently adopted by the Welsh government. She is also advising the Forestry Commission on the very first national Forestry Kindergarten qualification as well as working behind the scenes on the forthcoming Outdoor Handbook for Early Years which will be a joint Care Inspectorate/Inspiring Scotland publication.
At a time when children across the UK are spending less and less time interacting with nature and being outside, despite the many proven benefits of doing so, Juliet is showing how to get children outside for literacy, numeracy and practically every other lesson on the curriculum.
Wow! This is one of the best training sessions ever- I left motivated and inspired - I can’t wait to try out some of the ideas. I already have 2 books but to be trained in person was a real privilege- thank you
The day spent with Juliet has had a noticeable effect on outdoor learning here. We have classes out every day using the playground for literacy and numeracy
Thank you for such a practical, inspiring and informative day. Today was the most useful and interesting course I have ever been on
Inspirational ideas for use throughout
You have given me ideas to make more effort and encourage others to open the doors
I really liked how you linked the theory to practical considerations and had reasoned arguments for all that you did
Lots of practical ideas you can implement straight away to enhance maths provision
Without question - the stand out session of the day. Went away with enthusiasm and motivation. Most take away to implement in my own school
Whether it’s going for the full Forest School approach or simply taking a bundle of twigs and a bag of stones for a maths lesson on the nearest safe stretch of tarmac, the many thousands of teachers who have enjoyed Juliet’s expertise know the power of outdoors learning.
Something that is even more apparent with some of our least motivated and hard-to-reach children who seem to come to life when they are outside the confines of the traditional classroom.
Juliet’s first book, the wonderfully titled Dirty Teaching has proven hugely popular with teachers from EYFS onwards looking for practical ideas - and no small amount of reassurance - when it comes to taking the plunge and leading their classes outside. Her follow-up book, also containing beautiful photographs by Independent Thinking Associate Jane Hewitt, looks specifically at numeracy outdoors and is titled Messy Maths. Within weeks of being published it was one of our top-selling books, won a handful of awards and has remained hugely popular ever since.
To understand the power and potential of outdoor learning, then Juliet is the person you need to work with. Just remember the old Scandinavian adage, there is no such thing as bad weather, just bad clothing.
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Our office in lovely West Wales will then get in touch before you can say 'meddylwyr annibynnol'.