The devastating bushfires that razed parts of the Adelaide Hills in December 2019 not only claimed a life, killed livestock, destroyed homes and charred the landscape – they also left painful scars for locals.
So, to help restore the confidence of local children and encourage their connection with the surrounding countryside after the tragedy, Lobethal Lutheran School has teamed up with Trinity Lutheran congregation at nearby Spring Head to establish a forest learning program on church land.
Students from the Foundation to Year 6 school have been going by bus one day each week this year to a forest glen haven at Spring Head church, to engage in ‘Beyond’, an ‘innovative, rich outdoor learning program’, says school Principal Steph Kriewaldt. Students are given challenging but achievable tasks, linked to the Australian Curriculum, which are aimed at building confidence, skills and independence.
‘All of our learners from five years old onwards light fires without matches, learn how to cut trees and wood, build shelter, tie knots and identify local flora and fauna – all learning experiences carefully designed … to support student agency but also cover key literacy, numeracy and STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering and Mathematics) outcomes’, Steph says. ‘It’s … planned to develop confidence and resilience through challenge and risk in a range of nature play and discovery experiences. Beyond encourages the children’s emotional and physical development through exploration in a bushland environment.’
The program has seen the school recently recognised by The Educator national magazine as a 5-Star Innovative School for 2021. ‘This award is a fabulous acknowledgement of the outstanding hard work of staff, our awesome learners and special community and a fabulous partnership between Lobethal Lutheran School and Spring Head church’, Steph says.
Other Lutheran schools named 5-Star Innovative Schools this year are Faith Lutheran College Redlands in Queensland and Immanuel College at Novar Gardens South Australia.
Find out more about Beyond at: https://youtu.be/Odk3cHFvx5s
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