Pen Portrait: Leanne Connor
I began my university experience by moving away from home and living in York whilst studying at York St John University for a year. I then realised the course was not what I expected and after looking around at other universities, I decided to apply at UCD, mainly due to the convenience of the university only being a 30 minute car journey from my home in Doncaster. Luckily, I was able to transfer my credits to enrol on the 2nd year of the BA (Hons) Early Childhood Studies. In particular, I have enjoyed the placement which is an integral part of the course which was not an option at York and perhaps one of the main reasons I decided to move. Whilst attending, lectures, seminars and group discussions, I have learnt the theoretical knowledge to enable me to complete a range of essays, presentations, research projects and a dissertation and to convert this knowledge into practice within school. My university course, especially my time in school, has confirmed my belief that teaching is one of the most challenging and demanding careers but one that is exciting and rewarding. I am now ready to pursue my dream career by beginning an Initial Teacher Training year within a school which I attended for placement.
This research study considered teachers’ opinions on the importance of outdoor learning and compares outdoor learning experiences from Reception to Year 1 in a sub-urban infant school. The study used a comparative case-study research to explore the comparisons of outdoor learning between these two year groups. The researcher was an active listener throughout the study and the children’s voices were considered vital, therefore qualitative focus groups were planned with Reception children and quantitative Likert Scale questionnaires were distributed to Year 1 children. The researcher also interviewed two full-time teachers, separately, in a semi-structured interview. In this particular school, outdoor learning is offered less often to Year 1 children than to Reception children. This could be the result of the pressures teachers are experience, in terms of accountability, progress, achievement and attainment