All students at Furuhällsskolan have at least one morning break they have to spend outdoors and it is usually 20 minutes long. At lunch they have another outdoor break, after finishing their meal. The duration of this break varies a bit depending on the schedule etc but it is usually at least 30 minutes. There is no law stating how long or short a break can be, it is up to the headmaster to decide.
Creative students use the popular "horse stable" as a balancing construction:
Part from this, a majority of the students attend our leisure time centres after (and before) school hours and they spend lots of time outdoors. During school breaks they often spend full days outdoors.
A day by the closeby lake:
In Sweden there is no law regulating the size of the school yard or that there have to be a school yard at all. There is a Planning and building act that states that "If the site is to be built with (...) school, there must be sufficient free space on the site or near that is suitable for play and outdoor activities." However, munucipalities have read this very differently and the average size of school yards is dicreasing in many places. At Furuhällsskolan we are glad to have a large and very diverse schoolyard without fences.
The students at our school can play in the adjacent forest and there are plenty of room for many students to have an outdoor break at the same time. We have a small football yard with artificial grass...
...and there is a basket ball yard...
...and a large football yard (it is not part of our official school yard but it is just right next to it so the students do not consider it other than our and use it many times a day).
Since there are some public walkways running through the schoolyard the students might get the chance to cuddle with a dog, a very popular event. The school has bought some tricycles some steady kick bikes that are very popular in all ages.
The school yard is not flat, there are natural hills and rocky parts...
...but also man made hills.
We have some climbing frames,
...sand pits and different types of swings...
...and have painted areas for ball games that are very popular.
On one of the walls at the gymnasium there is a climbing wall.
Most, if not all, teachers at the school consider outdoor lessons and activities a very important part of the education and school day. There are even teachers who applied to the school because of the great opportunities for outdoor education and the good reputation and tradition the school has in this matter.
What our curriculum states:
"The school should also strive to offer all students daily physical activity within the framework of the entire school day."
In Sweden a majority of the young students spend time at the leisure centres after (and before) school hours (the entire school day). The leisure centres have their own curriculum that explaines that: "By allowing students to be in the nature and take part in the community, the education will increase their probability to take part in an active association, cultural life and outdoor life in the local environment."
In Sweden the 6 year old students attend a "pre school year" at the school that is compulsory and also has it's own curiculum. Both this curriculum and the one for the leisure centres says that:
"Students shall be given the opportunity to develop a comprehensive mobility skill by participating in physical activities and spend time in different natural environments. The education should provide students with the opportunity to experience the joy of movement and thereby develop their interest in being physically active."
Both curriculums also states that the students "...shall be given the chance to develop their ability to...
...explore and describe phenomena and relationships in nature, technology and society; and
be able to move in different environments and understand what can affect health and well-being."
For the 6-year olds students the curriculum includes: "Physical activities indoors and outdoors during different seasons and in different weather conditions." in the substance the teaching have to be based on. The leisure centres has the same text with the addition of: "Outdoor activities during different seasons, as well as the opportunities of the local environment to stay in nature and in other places for physical activity and nature experiences. Safety and consideration for the environment and other people when staying in different natural environments. Rights and obligations in nature under allemannsrätten (right of common)".
At Furuhällsskolan the classes do not have equal time outdoor lessons a week. This might vary depending on the responsible teacher, the number of teachers available during the schoolday, the age group, the subject and what they are studying at the moment. The younger students the more time they tend to spend outdoors, one of the reasons being there are more teachers available. There are some classes that regularly have outdoor education at least once a week during school hours and some classes might only go out occasionally. Even if this varies, most, if not all, teachers are proud of the possibilities we have to use the nature as a classroom and see it as one of the benefits of working at Furuhällskolan.
The physical education is often held outdoors, several months a year.
However proud and happy we are with our possibilities, there is a dark cloud lurking above us. Our politicians have suggested that a private school will be built on the large football yard and this would of course take away an important place for the students to use during the breaks, PE and at the leisure centres. We don't know yet how much of the other areas we use daily that would be affected but considering our school has some 350 pupils and the private school will be a two storey building for 600 pupils + a gymnasium we guess it will need some of the spaces we have been taken for granted and we will for sure have to adapt to something that is a bit different from what we are used to. This will of course affect the PE-lessons considerably since the football yard is where they spend lots of time.
Where the private school is to be built, "Förskola Djupedal" is a kindergarten and furthest on the right side is another school, "Djupedalsskoln" with students from class 4 to 9:
This private school is planned to open in 2024 and we hope the area needed for them will not take away too much of the current advantages of the location of our school.
Another view of the planned area of the private school, you can see how close to Furuhällsskolan it will be:
We are worried that the already difficult traffic situation will be further burdened and that increased traffic means that more families do not want to let their children walk or ride their bike to school but instead will drive them in the car which then increases the traffic further on our small roads.