£50 – £350

Inspirational Outdoors 2018 - A two day outdoor learning & play conference

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Mount Pleasant Ecological Park

Chapel Hill



United Kingdom

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Refund Policy

Refund Policy

Refunds up to 30 days before event

Event description


Following some excellent feedback from 2017, we are pleased to bring you our 2018 conference. The most popular request from last year was for the conference to be longer. We have listened and are giving you a whole two days.

This conference is aimed at Primary staff (Heads, Teachers and Teaching Assistants), Early Years Practitioners, Home Educators, After School and Holiday Club Managers and their staff. We're also more than happy for interested parents and practitioners in other fields to attend. During the sessions we hope that you will share your knowledge with others.

Workshops will be added to this page as we book them.

The conference is hosted by Niki Willows - Outdoor Play Consultant and Trainer, and Martin Besford owner and manager of the Ofsted 'Outstanding' outdoor nursery, Highway Farm

The aims of the conference are:

  • To enable your staff team to collect practical, low cost or no cost ideas which they will be able to take away and start today.

  • To enable practitioners to develop high quality outdoor learning environments which will have a positive impact on children and staff.

  • To provide practical and hands on workshops, backed up with research and evidence about the benefits of outdoor play and learning.

This conference will cover many aspects of outdoor learning including:

  • Logistics of getting out of the classroom/setting

  • Increasing staff confidence outdoors

  • Create exciting learning opportunities outdoors

  • A wealth of practical ideas and activities linked to the curriculum

  • Professional development and upskilling

  • Evidencing outcomes within Outdoor Learning

  • Resources

  • Links, support and advice

The venue is Mount Pleasant Ecological Park which has been developed over the last 10 years as a unique community resource, all set within 42 acres of organic farmland, in an area of outstanding natural beauty on the north Cornish coast. If you are interested in buildings, the Eco-Park has the largest load bearing rammed earth structure in the UK; a tyre amphitheatre; a walled fire circle and covered courtyard. A perfect location for this inspirational training opportunity.

Confirmed so far - days yet to be decided

Keynote 1 - Martin Besford - Owner of Highway Farm Activity Centre ‘’Highway Farm - The Outdoor Journey. “ Passion, Possibilities and Perseverance “

Keynote 2 - Niki Buchan - Whirl around the World in 40 minutes!
Niki will share with you some exciting practice outdoors in faraway places for children aged up to 10 years.

Quest with Phil Waters

Phil Waters was a PhD student at the European Centre Environment & Human Health analysing the use of narrative as a means to engage children playfully in the natural environment.

Lisa Chell- Playing with Pewter

A creative and experimental introduction to pewter casting over a fire. Be drawn into the magic of the fire and molten metal, and leave with new shiny treasure! What's not to love?

Niki Buchan - Learning (shhh…..its actually STEM Play) Outdoors

Choose a challenge or two or three to create and make using minimal tools or equipment. In this workshop delegates will be encouraged to create and solve their chosen challenge by themselves or with a friend while considering the learning that may be occurring. We will discuss how this can be shared with families to promote outdoor play as the vehicle for learning

Martin Besford - Creating an Inspiring Place to “Be”

This very-hands-on workshop will begin with the outdoor space you already have. We’ll explore ways to create, inspire and interact that can develop it into a quality, meaningful, engaging place. Learn how to embrace the design process and create, develop and produce an action plan.

Claire Simpson - Sawdust Clay Firing

Using sawdust and smoke to create different finishes to pots fired in a dustbin. Plus making Japanese hikaru dorodango clay balls if you have the patience! We’ll explore the science around soil and look at its vital part in the eco system. We’ll discover creatures that live in soil, the layers of history that are found there and we can touch on ways soil / clay is used around the world.

Claire Simpson - Natural Dyes

We will make a variety of things using weaving and steam printing, possibly felting depending on time. We’ll look at the ways that working with natural dyes links with stories, history, science, the ways natural colours are used around the world and provide simple ideas to take back and used in many different settings.

Greenman Learning - Validating Woodland play in an Education System that Demands Data

We will work through a series of knife skills to illustrate specific skill progression in the context of a broader skill based programme.
This workshop is about inspiring people to consider ways in which woodland play and skills can actively contribute to curriculum goals and how we can evidence pupil progression. Based on the WILD Passport that we have developed and are taking to market this Spring, we will be facilitating discussion around providing paths for skill progression and monitoring of that progression. We will be looking at how adopting such approaches helps to satisfy the education sectors need for evidence of progression whilst providing vital opportunities for play.

Woodland Adventurers - Let's Get Physical

The workshop will comprise of up to four activities/games each offering a different area of physical activity amongst many other potential curriculum links. These activities/games are a collection from our experience in the wood with early years, sessions at Westonbirt Arboretum, primary school visits and Forest School Level 3 training with adults - all of these will be adaptable to ages from 2yrs - 82yrs!

We will explain a little about our background and ensure that you leave knowing how to link areas of the curriculum from Early Years , through to KS3 and adults to the activities.

Zelda School - Leaves & Letters Outdoor literacy

Bringing literacy to life in the garden. Lots of fun practical and imaginative ideas for practitioners working with EYs – end of KS1. Examples of how to teach core skills through to developing creative writing.

Zelda School - Sticks & Stones, Outdoor Maths

Using loose parts from nature along with story telling to make mathematics meaningful. This will involve practitioners finding and creating their own resources, going on learning adventures with squirrels and gnomes and lots of practical ideas for teachers from EY’s to end of KS1

Gill Mulholland - Eden Project, Giants Tales and Pesky Boggarts

We will explore the power of ‘spinning a yarn’ to create meaningful (and purposeful) learning adventures outside. A Tall Tale can hook your children in, list the tasks, set the learning objectives, offer a chance to apply learning to the ‘real’ world and set the scene for a celebration. It’s ‘learning by stealth’ at its best.

You will leave the session with pockets full of creative ideas for taking the core primary curriculum outside; probably also some bits of stick, a few shells, some blingy bits and grubby fingernails.

Kernow PSEH - Emotional Coaching in the Outdoors

Being outdoors has a huge impact on pupil’s self esteem and mental health. However school staff are often saying this isn’t transferring back into the classroom. This workshop will enable staff to use appropriate language to allow all the fantastic work that happens outdoors to transfer back into any situation. We will be using outdoor activities to identify ways to promote the positive language of emotional coaching. This will allow the language the adult uses to link experiences back into classrooms, and as such ensuring skills such as resilience can transfer into any situation.

Unnur Henrys & Harpa - The Icelandic Approach

We are Harpa and Unna two preschool teachers from Iceland and we are very enthusiastic about the outdoors. Our students are between 1 and 5. We have 8 classes with a total of 173 children and 50 staff.

Compared to England our outside environment is quite extreme and learning outside has its challenges. We got together as a staff team to change the way we work in our outdoor school area by motivating the teachers. Now the whole school comes out to have fun and learn from each other. We’ll tell you what worked for us and what didn’t work as well. We do have a curriculum to follow and we will show you how we set up different activities based around maths.

Sandy Hawkey - Splish, Splash, Squirt and Slide

Soggy suggestions to whet your appetite for ideas to explore and play with water outdoors. Waterway to have fun!! Squirt it, Freeze it, Bubble it, Water Flow challenge it, Ice cube colour mix it , match and race it, Water tube journey it, Story water bottle it, Taste it, Waterwheel it, Rocket blast it. Loads of “it” ideas to launch your thoughts in to a torrent of imaginative white water waves.

You will choose your workshops as you arrive each day, This will be on a first come first served basis.

Please dress for the glorious Cornish weather - this could mean sunscreen, or full waterproofs, or most likely- both! Please be prepared

Accommodation - Please book this independently

Camping is available at the venue, please contact the Eco-park direct.

EcoPark Office 01209 891500 ecoparkcampsite@gmail.com

Travelodge at Hayle, less than 10 miles away.


Take the St Agnes turning off the A30 (at Starbucks) and follow the signs to Porthtowan. At the top of Chapel Hill turn left signposted Mount Pleasant Ecological Park.

Social Media - please use #IOP18 which stands for Inspirational Outdoors Porthtowan 2018 - watch this space for 2019!

If you'd like to chat to others about the event please feel free on our Facebook page

Nitty Gritty

  • All tickets must be bought via Eventbrite, we can not make any exceptions.

  • Ticket sales end on Monday June 4th.

  • No refunds can be issued after May 28th.

  • This is an adults only event.

  • Workshops may be subject to change.

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Date and Time


Mount Pleasant Ecological Park

Chapel Hill



United Kingdom

View Map

Refund Policy

Refunds up to 30 days before event

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