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THE OUTDOOR CLASSROOM

Educational Opportunities of The Square

Nature, Wildlife, Habitats, Environmental, Conservation, Gardening, History & more...

This page is currently in development.
Any information displayed on it may be incomplete &/ inaccurate. If you have any queries about the opportunities we are creating here and would like to discuss the possibility of using them (or assisting with their development), please Contact Us.

When FoVS first started, it was to help revive a somewhat neglected location, offering the assistance of restoration and maintenance towards it. From there the group has gone on to enhance and improve it into a well adding several elements that serve both human and nature's needs. These have been carefully created and blended into the already natural environment that exists there, in order to help keep that balance alongside any new opportunities for nature to grow and thrive.

Once we had reached a point where we were finished with the installation of the bulk of our work and the establishment of continued caretaking of it, we started to look at what else we could do with the project elements beyond just decorative features, non-interactive features and public interactive on an appreciative level.

The answer of course was to use our work, and the nature of The Square as educational resources to help teach things like, nature and environmental studies, conservation and gardening... and even the history of The Square itself

We are still currently developing these options, but the process is

The Following are examples of the types of Educational Opportunities we are currently developing. If you're establishment is covered by one of these categories please contact us to discuss how you can utilise our facilities and resources, as well as help further develop the options that would be suited for that programme. If you are not listed here, please contact us to see what we could do, and also with any offers to help create a programme.

  • Schools - Key Stage 1 & 2 Nature & Environmental Studies, How To- Gardening

  • Youth Groups - Scout Badges, Nature Talks, Gardening Sessions, Fun Sessions (e.g. Bug Hunts)

  • Bat Watches - Observational walks (with detectors), wildlife monitoring

  • Tours of The Square - Tours of our work at The Square / History of The Square

  • Duke of Edinburgh Award - BSG - Volunteering (General) or Skill (e.g. Gardening)

  • External Educators - Guest Speaker led tours or "How To..." sessions (e.g. Trees of The Square, How to Grow...)

  • How To... Sessions - Gardening, Composting, Nature Care

  • Nature Surveying - National & In-House nature monitoring e.g. annual birds and butterflies counts

  • Cross Community Collaborative Projects - Working with other groups/organisations to deliver educational sessions within The Square

Current Programmes

Minibeast Studies (a.k.a. Bug Hunts​)

Victoria Square is home to a healthy plethora of nature's smallest creatures, each doing their important work either to help maintain the environment or help maintain themselves. Minibeast Studies looks at those we can easily find and view that live there, and talks about their relationship with this environment and what they do within it. From Annelids to Xylovores and anything else under this 'classification', we can find, we offer a fascinating insight into their world.

Minibeast Studies are suitable for Key Stage 1 & 2, scout badge nature studies and can be tailored to younger children as 'fun' sessions.

Content of session depends on time of the year and individual requirements for the group.

Session time usually se to 1hr

Session Elements

These can be used to construct a session plan. All sessions will begin with an introduction, session outline, and safety talk that lasts about 5-10 minutes, depending on session plan (see below for approximate content).

  1. Introduction, Session Outline & Safety Talk - This will precede all sessions to establish content of the session and any safety rules we require attendees to follow. A copy of those rules can be found here.

  2. Bug Hunting - Attendees are given equipment to observe minibeasts with and are given free exploration to find them. This is suitable for all ages and does not have to be tied into an educational programme. - (15-20min)

  3. Minibeast Survey- Attendees are given worksheets with particular minibeasts to find and count &/ minibeast habitat to find and explore. Suitable for Key Stage 2. Copies of the sheets for further lession use can be found here [pending] (15-20min)

  4. Minibeast Classification - Not all minibeasts are the same. This section an teach the difference between an insect and an arachnid, why some have more legs than other and what the scientific names for their classifications are. [TBC Suitable for Key Stage 1 & 2]

  5. Tree Shake - (10-15mins) - We place a sheet on the ground beneath a tree and shake it to se what falls out. Multiple trees can be visited.

  6. Wildlife & Habitat Tour - (20-40mins*) A guided tour of the various habitats around The Square (both natural and human-made), with opportunities to examine and explore (*will include some Bug Hunting at various locations)

  7. Water Life Exploration - Visiting our ponds to find out what's in there (note, Attendees will not be allowed to enter the pond area or pond dip) (15-2omins)

  8. Minibeasts: Nature's Environmentalists - (15-2omins) - A look at what certain minibeasts do to help benefit their environment.

  9. Minibeast Life Cycles  A look at the growth cycles of minibeasts

  10. Human Created Environments - A look at what we and other humans have done to both change the environment of The Square for minibeasts, as well as how they've had to adapt for other changes we have made for ourselves.

  11. Debrief & Lesson Review - A change to go over what has been discovered and learnt (10-15mins)

  12. Q&A - A chance to ask more questions (10-15mins - can be combined with D&LR

Bat Watches

Visit The Square at Sunset on any [dry] evening between April & October and you are likely to see bats flying around. As part of our National Lottery Heritage Funding requirements we needed to do some surveys. Because of the bat population we chose to survey them, and to aid us in this we used some of our funding to purchase some Bat Detectors. From there we developed an evening Bat Watch programme

We aim to hold several sessions throughout the season (Apr-Oct) where anyone can come along and not only watch the bats, but listen to them also, and find out more about their habits and habitats.

To find out when we are running these sessions please see our events page.

  • Sessions will not run if wet, or other unfavourable weather conditions.

  • Start times vary throughout the year with initial meeting time usually around 10minutes before sunset.

  • Session will last about 1hr from that point.

  • Most sessions will take place at Victoria Square, though other locations of known bat populations around Penarth may be used instead.

  • Meeting point for Victoria Square is in front of The Church Entrance. For other locations please see any event announcements

  • Children are welcome, though must be accompanied by a supervising adult.

  • Dogs are advised not to attend if they would be affected by the bat's ultrasonic calls.

  • Dress for the weather with suitable footwear for walking on grass,

  • Bring a torch.

  • Detectors and other equipment and resources provided, though you are also welcome to bring your own.

  • Announcements about any changes will go out via our Facebook Page (see Homepage of this website if you do not have Facebook access) and any applicable WhatsApps.

  • Risk Assessment for this event can be found here. [pending]

Alternative Bat Sites we may use

  1. The Kymin

  2. Dingle Park

  3. Beach (Opposite Yacht Club) - Including with Dawnstalkers / Together Is Better Moon Mermaid Full Moon Coffee & Campfire Swim Dates)

  4.  Alexandra Park (Rectory Rd Entrance)

How too Sesisons

Gardening

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[Details]

Tours of The Square

[Details]

Attendee Criteria

Children

All Children MUST be accompanied by and supervised by for all needs by a parent/guardian/loco parentis for all sessions. FoVS does not provide carers / loco parentis and are not responsible for supervising or administering to any child's needs, e.g. medication, food, toilet, hygiene (except when provided as part of cleanness care from interacting with programme elements)

Session Groups Sizes & Supervising Adult Ratios

Note, these are a general guidelines and may differ from the establishment's own policies, in which case those should be used instead. It is always recommended that additional adult supervision is supplied where needed. Supervising Adults are welcome to Get Involved where possible.

Schools, Youth Groups 

  • Pre-School & Nursery - Min Group Size - 4 - Max Group Size 12 with a (min. 1:1 supervision ratio).

  • Infants - Min Group Size 6, Max 12 (1:6)

  • Juniors - Min Group Size 6. Max 15 (1:6)

  • Secondary - Min Groups Size 6. Max 15 (1:8)

Private Sessions

Families

At least 1 adult parent/guardian/approved loco-parentis must remain in attendance and supervision of their children at all times. For families with any children under 10 a ratio of (1:3) is required. If all children are over 10 then this can be increased to 1:6. Maximum single group size is 12.

Parties (Fun)

Supervision 

Safety Rules for Session Attendance

These rules may be subject to variations depending on session plan and attendee types. Additional rules may be given on the day. It is advisable that all attending supervising adults familiarise themselves with them prior to attending, and should assist with application of them throughout the session.

These rules are also in addition to any imposed by a visiting school/group etc.

 

These rules are applicable while in participation in an FoVS Session. Any attending parent/guardian/loco parentis who allows any child under their supervision to contradict or exceed these rules do so under their own volition and therefore makes them solely responsible for any consequences. FoVS take no responsibility for any misuse of duty of care [etc.] 

Best Practice and Common Sense is to be applied where no specific rule has been listed.

Rules are not listed in an particular order.

  1. All attendees should listen to any rules, instructions &/ guidelines of the FoVS Session Volunteers, both during the safety talk and given out at any point during the session. Failure to follow could result in the session being halted, either for that individual or part of / whole of the group, either until the requirement is followed or completely.

  2. All session attendees must stay within the boundary of Victoria Square while in participation of the session,. The boundary line is defined as inside the nearside pavement area of the road that surrounds the greenspace. Stepping onto the pavement is stepping outside of the boundary

  3. Children visiting as part of a school/group are also required to follow any additional rules imposed by that school/group. Children visiting with parents etc. should likewise be supervised under a Common Sense practice.

  4. Children working in groups (min of 3 per group) during an activity MUST stick together. Should one get injured and not be able to move, one stays with them while the other goes to get help.

  5. Victoria Square is a public space with visitors not associated with the FoVS or the session. Care should be taken to not impact on their usage of The Square.

  6. The path leading from the West Corner to the South Corner in front of the church entrance is a a working driveway, which may occasionally be in use by vehicles. All paths may also be used by cyclists and other personal, small transportation. Care must be taken around Any vehicles that enter The Square. While vehicles and cyclists do not have priority, they may not exercise courtesy while present.

  7. Dog walkers use The Square. While dogs should be kept on a lead at all times in the area (see applicable signs) this is not enforced. Dog walkers should not be approached, including for interaction with their dog. Should a dog &/ walker approach 

  8. Watch out for Dog Poo underfoot. Report any sightings (and any irresponsible owners seen leaving it behind) to an FoVS Volunteer.

  9. Look but don't touch on some elements (you will be advised as to which)

  10. Put things back where you've found them - this especially includes any minibeasts taken from their habitats.

  11. No Climbing Trees

  12. No climbing on project elements (e.g. log piles & stumps).

  13. Do not enter or climb on any buildings (e.g. The church, church halls, houses), unless specific usage of those spaces are included in the session.

  14. Take care of the environment. Do not damage anything, drop litter, pull on or break trees etc. 

  15. Feeding the wildlife should be done under the advise of a competent individual (e.g. a FoVS volunteer) knowledgeable in the suitable ways this can be done.

  16. No Chasing the wildlife or performing actions that could cause creatures distress.

  17. Wash hands after handling nature etc.. Do not eat with dirty hands.

  18. Attendees are responsible for their own hydration, medication, sunscreen etc. We have no access to fresh, clean water on site.

  19. First Aid Kit and clean water for first aid will be provided.

These rules are still being written so may be altered before final version and are to be considered a rough guidance at this time. Any errors, word choices and formatting that may be present as a result could be subject to change.

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