Witherslack, Grange-over-Sands, Cumbria, LA11 6RS
015395 52298
Paul Macfarlane Helen Fothergill

Learning Outside the Classroom Gold Award

Dean Barwick School in Witherslack has shown itself to be at the top of the class for providing meaningful learning outside the classroom (LOtC) experiences to all of its pupils by being awarded the Learning Outside the Classroom Mark (Gold) accreditation.

LOtC Mark is awarded by the Council for Learning Outside the Classroom, the national voice for Learning Outside the Classroom. LOtC Mark is intended not only to recognise existing exemplary provision, but also to assist and support schools in developing their LOtC offer to enable all children to have access to meaningful LOtC experiences. LOtC Mark is the first national accreditation for schools which recognises, and supports, the development of learning outside the classroom across all subject areas.

Being awarded LOtC Mark (Gold) is a real coup for all the staff and governors as it shows that we are working hard to provide our pupils with potentially life-changing opportunities. We're thrilled to get official recognition for our efforts and we look forward to building on this award to continue to develop our LOtC provision and contribute to the promotion of the many benefits of taking teaching and learning outside of the classroom walls.


"Dean Barwick School is a good ambassador for LOtC. There is a real focus on frequent, continuous, progressive LOtC activities for all pupils. The school grounds and immediate environment around the school are excellent and provide wonderful opportunities for outdoor learning which are exploited to the full by an enthusiastic, resourceful, committed and competent staff team. There is also frequent access to venues and activities in the wider community in support of the pupils’ learning.

The pupils were very familiar with their surroundings when working in the woods adjacent to the school. They behaved well, supported each other, managed their own and others’ safety effectively and were able to talk with confidence and knowledge about their learning and their surroundings. All pupils were fully engaged throughout and clearly enjoyed their learning experience.

The school’s creative curriculum approach and commitment to LOtC enables and encourages staff to engage in LOtC activities on a frequent and regular basis. Staff have had access to relevant training and support to enable the effective development of LOtC (eg Forest Schools training and Outdoor First Aid training). The school website is an excellent platform for LOtC and clearly demonstrates the school’s commitment to LOtC through the home page design, the documentation and the images included.

LOtC is clearly a real strength of this school. Overall this school is a champion of LOtC with committed and resourceful staff, and pupils who benefit greatly from their LOtC experiences. I would recommend that the school is awarded the LOtC Gold Mark Award.                 Andy Lavin, Assessor for Council for LoTC"


Forest Schools - The philosophy of Forest Schools is to encourage and inspire individuals of any age through positive outdoor experiences.

Our forest school activities are one element of an education that begins in the Foundation Stage and builds over the years, to the John Muir Award in KS2. All the children enjoy dedicated ‘forest school time’ for half a day per week during the academic year.

In KS2, the children bring in suitable clothing and footwear; EYFS/KS1 have full waterproof suits provided by us.

The children use all the natural areas around the school. These feature wooded areas, bushes, a steep hill and a woodland classroom. We also have a developed pond and wildlife area to allow pond dipping activities and bird watching.

We want all our children to reach their full potential, and the Forest School ideal supports this by promoting self-awareness, self-regulation, intrinsic motivation, empathy, good social communication skills, independence, a positive mental attitude, self-esteem and confidence.

Our children visit the same local areas on a regular basis, and through play, they have the opportunity to learn about the natural environment, how to handle risks and most importantly use their own initiative to solve problems and co-operate with others.

Dean Barwick also hosts training for other schools from time to time and shares our amazing facilities with local schools if they wish to visit as part of our global citizenship.

Pupils enjoy the many challenges and experiences that the school has to offer. They learn about the environment through interesting projects. Recently, they planted trees and developed boardwalks and habitats through their conservation projects. Some have taken part in a 10-mile walk to raise funds for a national charity. Pupils learn about responsibility by caring for the school chickens and guinea pigs.
Ofsted March 2023