The Role of the adult


Our role as educators and as a school is that of gardener rather than carpenter.

“Our job is not to shape our children’s minds; it’s to let those minds explore all the possibilities that the world allows.”
Alison Gopnik

We are not creators of robots implementing a cookie cutter approach. We are gardeners nurturing an incredibly diverse generation of children capable of thriving in the imagination era. We provide a wonderful environment, create all of the conditions for growth and remain supportive adults to guide our children along their learning and development. Interaction provides a rich social world for children to make sense of and gives opportunities for them to learn by trying out their ideas with adults and other children. Co-operative aspirations, ventures, and achievements will
be valued. Our learning environment will assist children in their quest for making sense of and finding out about their world by:

  • adults knowing the children well, providing the basis for the “give and take” of communication and learning;

  • adults providing “scaffolding” for the children’s endeavours – supports and connections that are removed and replaced when and where they are needed;

  • providing appropriate and interesting play materials that children can change and interact with;

  • ensuring there are active and interactive learning opportunities, with opportunities for children to have an effect and to change the environment;

  • providing a variety of opportunities for social interaction with adults and other children.

  • adults providing encouragement, warmth and acceptance. They also provide challenges for creative and complex learning and thinking, helping children to extend their ideas and actions through sensitive, informed, welljudged interventions and support.


Our children deserve:

  • adults and environments to provide resources, challenges, and support for their widening interests and problem-solving capacities;

  • opportunities for unfamiliar routines, new and self-directed challenges, co-operative ventures, and sustained projects;

  • adults who can encourage sustained conversations, queries, and complex thinking, including concepts of fairness, difference, and similarity;

  • opportunities to use language to explore and to direct thinking and learning tasks;

  • a widening range of resources for creative expression, symbolising, and representation;

  • recognition of their developing sense of humour, which springs from new understandings about how things “ought” to be;

  • challenging opportunities which keep pace with their physical co-ordination and development.

Adults are an integral part of our curriculum. Our educators are knowledgeable about children’s development, skilled at implementing curriculum, thoughtful about what they do, aware of their role as models for learning, willing to try alternatives, and well supported by our leadership team. Under the Ofsted ‘definition of teaching’, our adults will be skilled in communicating and modelling language, showing, explaining, demonstrating, exploring ideas, encouraging,
questioning, recalling, providing a narrative for what they are doing, facilitating and setting challenges.

Adults will treat children as individuals and through this create relationships of trust and respect by acknowledging children’s feelings, explaining procedures, taking children’s fears and concerns seriously, and responding promptly
to injuries or falls.

We will provide opportunities for interactions with community groups and services, both by children
visiting outside the school and by people from the wider world being welcomed to share their expertise with us.

Adults will ensure children’s interests, enthusiasms, preferences, temperaments, and abilities are the starting-points for everyday planning, and comparative approaches are avoided.

Adults will encourage children to initiate conversation, listen to children attentively, and help develop interaction, with plenty of opportunities for one-to-one communication between children and adults. Opportunities will be provided for the children to interact with a range of adults through our programme of inviting experts in their field to assist children on projects.

Adults will be great storytellers, reading and telling stories, providing books, and will use story times to allow children to exchange and extend ideas and vocabulary, reinforcing developing concepts of, and language for, shape, space and size as well as imaginative responses. Storytelling will additionally be used as a tool to discuss empathy, understanding of key concepts and the power of narrative.

Adults will model to the children the use of print and numbers for creative and meaningful activities, such as following a recipe, sorting objects, following timetables and calendars, and counting out groups.

Adults support and extend children’s play without interrupting or dominating the activity and will avoid unnecessary intervention. They interact rather than interfere.

Adults will plan optional activities, resources, and events which build upon and extend children’s interests.

Adults will respond to children’s questions, assist them to articulate and extend ideas, take advantage of opportunities for exploration, problem solving, remembering, predicting, and making comparisons, and be enthusiastic about finding answers together. They will encourage children to know what is happening and why.


The importance of the environment

There is overwhelming evidence that getting children outdoors provides the best possible start in life and we are proud to foster this at Liberty Woodland School.

Studies demonstrate that children now know less about the natural world than ever before in the history of humankind. According to the National Trust, fewer than one in ten children regularly play in wild places compared to almost half
a generation ago, a third have never climbed a tree, and one in ten can’t ride a bike. These increasingly indoor and sedentary lifestyles are leading to distressing physical and mental symptoms, including obesity (linked to low overall
fitness levels), behavioural problems, stress and a lack of awareness of nature and its benefits.

Fortunately, increasing outdoor time for children is the simplest way to tackle these problems and a forest education offers a range of proven health and wellbeing benefits.

Our children will have access to a magical and inspiring environment at our school. Carefully designed and landscaped spaces provide a wide variety of possibilities for exploring, investigating, planning, reasoning, hypothesising and learning. Nature play will inspire children through awe and wonder to learn more about the natural world and through this learning, develop all key areas of competence through physical, healthy lifestyles. Wisdom begins in wonder and nature provides joyful and plentiful opportunities for wonder.

Our environment encourages active exploration, providing both new challenges and familiar resources so that children develop confidence. Both indoor and outdoor environments are used as learning resources. Our indoor and outdoor environments are inspirational and designed to encourage collaborative and creative work.  Our physical environment removes any barrier to learning by expecting our environment to  be as agile as the children. Providing flexible  and adaptable working environments allows each child to engage as an individual and stimulates innovation.

Adults plan the daily environment to provide resources and equipment which encourage spontaneous play, activities, and practising of skills for individuals or in small groups. The materials and tools for children are appropriate for each stage of development, work properly and are easy to clean and put away. Our resources allow the children to direct their own learning by being self-accessible, at the right height. The children will be co-responsible for deciding which resources we need.

Equipment is provided for scientific, mathematical, and technological learning.

A reference library is available for both children and adults as well as information for parents on children’s physical growth and the value of outdoor play in learning and development.