14 May

This week staff and students have been embracing nature as part of this week’s Mental Health Awareness Week, so I’m handing over this week’s blog to Miss Wright and the class teams.

The 10th-16th May was Mental Health Awareness Week. The theme was Nature. Whenever there is a nationally organised key event around mental health we like to really embrace it at the Learning Centre. We take the opportunity to introduce and explore new and different activities that can support our mental health and wellbeing.

This week we have looked at why being out in nature is good for our mental health. You can find out more at www.mentalhealth.org.uk. After researching why being in nature is good for you, we went to experience it by trying out an activity called ‘forest bathing’. This originated in Japan where it is known as ‘Shinrin Yoku’. It involves immersing yourself in nature and using your senses to enjoy the environment. There is more information here –Forget wild swimming – it’s all about new trend forest bathing | Metro News. Our students in the main body put ‘forest bathing’ into practice along the Woodland Walk in Alexandra Park.

While they were at the park students took the opportunity to take photographs for our Nature Photo Competition. I’m really looking forward to having a look at the entries next week and then we will share them on the blog.

We also looked at ways we can enjoy nature by taking care of it. We have two bug hotels under construction and we have made seed bombs ready to launch. This will provide a place for insects to live and plenty of flowers for the bees and butterflies.

Students also took the opportunity to research all the different green areas within our community such as parks, canals, lakes and reservoirs. It’s amazing the number of places around Oldham and Rochdale where you can get out in nature.

You don’t have to travel far to get out in nature. Have a go at back garden bingo and see what you can notice in your garden or local area..

Everyone has really enjoyed doing all the different activities and we are certainly going to try and spend more time outside as it has had such a positive effect on both staff and students. The staff have written about what each class have been up to.

Firstly, to Mrs Keane’s year 12 group..

This week 12AKE have fully immersed themselves in Mental Health Awareness Week. On Monday in our outdoor sessions we explored the gardens at the Learning Centre and practised a new skill, forest bathing. We used all our senses whilst out and about.

We did some tree hugging.

We found a little bee stuck in an old spider’s web.  We freed the bee and it flew happily off.

On Tuesday, we went to Alexandra Park and were blessed with beautiful weather. Some of the group walked there, others went in the minibus. We found wild garlic on the woodland walk and saw some beautiful flowers and trees.

We fed the birds at the lake.

On Wednesday we took the classroom outside and made mobiles using materials from the gardens.

We also contributed to the Learning Centre bug hotel.

Miss Peace has been really impressed with the Nurture Group students..

Our students have been doing various activities this week for Mental Health Awareness Week. They have engaged in all activities and thoroughly enjoyed all aspects of the week. They took part in the forest bathing with a walk to Alexandra Park..

They also took part in creating a bug hotel..

..and made a natural mobile using with natural resources they had collected during the week..

It is evident that we have some really talented photographers at the Learning Centre and I look forward to sharing the entries. In the meantime, here’s a beautiful photograph which Mariam took in the park. I absolutely love it!

Mr Blackman has of course totally embraced the nature theme for Mental Health Awareness Week as the photographs illustrate..

YR14 had the challenge of building the bug hotel out of bits of scrap timber. The team once again have done a cracking job, they should feel very proud of themselves..

Brilliant work guys! Miss Knox’s class have also been working hard..

IB COMMS 1 have been very busy this week. As it was Mental Health Awareness Week some of our lessons explored this. As a class we all got green fingered and did some gardening.

We also collected sticks and made some natural photo frames from leaves and flowers that we collected from nature walks around the Learning Centre.

We hope you like our pond – hopefully the tadpoles haven’t emigrated!

Mrs Brierley’s Communication Group have been learning to follow a fitness routine to keep healthy and all the students worked really hard. I’ll definitely be donning my trainers and joining in next week!

The students also learned Thai Chi and chair yoga which helps with their breathing and staying calm.

Mrs Peacock’s Employability Group have been very busy!

This week EMPVPK have been trying to learn the art of cross stitching. To support mental health week, the group have been looking at different hobbies such as knitting, mosaic making and painting for pleasure and have talked about how trying different hobbies can help to relax and calm you down.

Mrs Peacock and Mrs Wilkinson then introduced cross stitching to the group for them to try and explained how they used to do this activity at school when they were younger and thought it would be fun to try. All the group chose their own designs to make and came up with some really interesting ideas. The group enjoyed this activity and will be showing everyone their finished designs in the coming weeks.

We also took the opportunity of mental health week to discuss how helping others can also help you. Some of the girls took the opportunity to show how they could help each other out!

Ms Thornhill’s class also really enjoyed taking part in Mental Health Awareness Week..

Miss Wright had put together a powerpoint that was differentiated to provide activities that were suitable for the students in the EBase provision. She had also included a link for, “A Virtual Walk through a Forest”. This showed a range of photos and videos with the main focus on fauna, flora, waterfalls and natural waterways, accompanied by bird song and soothing music.

Whilst watching this, the students in Ebase were particularly quiet as they watched intently. The video and experience of Nature definitely promoted positive wellbeing and a sense of calm. This is definitely something we will use in the future.

The video also prompted us to go for a walk into the woods at the back of the Learning Centre and experience being outside in Nature. The students really enjoyed this outing and some were pointing out different things that they could see, for example, birds and flowers.

Thank you Sarah for encouraging us to connect with Nature, it’s been wonderful and a new experience for some of our students.

Next week we will be sharing the entries for the photographic competition and judging from what I’ve seen already it will be a close-run thing.

There has been a lot of press coverage recently about face coverings not being required in secondary schools from 17th May. At the Learning Centre we will be following the updated guidance for SEND and Specialist settings as from 17th which is::

In all schools and FE providers, we continue to recommend that face coverings should be worn by staff and visitors in situations outside of classrooms where social distancing is not possible (for example, when moving around in corridors and communal areas).

This seems a sensible and considered approach, which will support our young people with a staggered approach as we follow our roadmap out of lockdown.

Our students continue to be amazing in the mature way they adhere to the protocols that are now commonplace. Thank you so much for all your support. We will continue to follow guidelines, however it seems a positive and yet still careful move forward. If you have any questions please do not hesitate to get in touch.

Have a lovely weekend,


Click here for this week’s news from Graham

You can find Gavin’s blog for the school site here

For news on our Key Stage 5 pathway groups at Medtia Square please click here

You can find our previous Learning Centre blog posts here