08 Feb

MUDDY FEET® Case study: Bardwell School

Bardwell school

See the Video here  with thanks to Bardwell school 

An innovative six-week nature-based therapeutic intervention with a class of Special Educational Needs (SEN) and Profound and Multiple Learning Disorders (PMLD) primary aged children. These facilitated sessions were designed to deliver outcomes identified in Educational and Healthcare Plans (EHP).

This nature-based therapeutic intervention delivered strategies from a range of therapeutic approaches. The intervention included a repeated structure, visual and signing communication tools, play, teamwork, games and songs. The children developed new skills and took part in risky activities using tools and fire. We included anxiety reduction measures such as sit spots and hammocks to aid with emotional regulation. The children took part in a range of fun activities including woodcraft, games, and shelter building. There were exciting opportunities throughout the programme to notice and connect with nature. A truly immersive nature experience for these children.

This programme was developed with funding from Cherwell Council as part of their ‘Community Nature Plan’.  This pilot programme with Bardwell Special School identified the benefits of bringing children out to woodland for educational and therapeutic benefits. These children traditionally have fewer opportunities to access natural environments and the multiple benefits of nature connection.

There are increasing bodies of research into the therapeutic benefits of being in outdoor space and connecting with nature. The results of the programme have been shared with the school and the Council to assist the school to develop further programmes, either through fundraising, capacity building or staff training.

Key Results

  • Nature activities including speech, language, play and occupational therapy strategies relevant to the group.
  • Self-initiated communication skills developed, the child moved from 1 – 2 word sentences to speaking continuously for 2 minutes
  • Increase in physical development through climbing trees, and carrying logs.
  • Increase in teamwork, communication and listening.
  • Students who become fixated with activities that stimulate them (ASD), have been able to self initiate activities moving away from games and tablets to climbing / jumping in trees, hide and seek, scavenger hunts, and exploring.
  • Reduced anxiety and comfortable in the natural environment.
  • Increase in imaginative play
  • Flexible approach with appropriate structure to enable students to engage in the programme. Holistic, active learning.
  • Calmer behaviour outdoors and upon return to school.
  • Using a facilitator enabled the teacher to observe and engage with students.
  • Students experience activities that they would not normally engage in, including risky activities.
  • Cross-curricular learning links to Science, PHSE, PE, Communication, Maths.


“In my opinion, the programme has been absolutely fantastic and I would do it year on year with different classes”
Rebecca Lees, Bardwell Year 3 Teacher


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