Outdoor Learning


The Bespolka Family has very generously offered a challenge grant in memory of their son Cameron
(C, 2011 – 2013), who tragically died in 2013. From a very early age, Cameron was passionate about nature and in particular birds, which is why the family is keen to help ensure that outdoor learning is an important part of a Winchester education. The Bespolkas will match £1 for £1 every donation in support of this project, up to a value of £50,000. This would be a wonderful legacy to Cameron and his time at Winchester.

PROJECT COST £100,000 - £150,000

Winchester College is situated on the banks of an internationally rare and important habitat, a gin clear chalk stream and its associated habitats, particularly the flood meadows. Further afield is the 97 metre summit of St. Catherine’s Hill, which is the Western most part of the South Downs National Park, and Twyford Down which dominates the skyline.  Both are Sites of Special Scientific Interest and nature reserves of some repute.

In 2016, to encourage the boys to have a greater understanding and knowledge of their environment, the natural world and ecology, the Duncan Louis Stewart Fellowship in Natural History was established.  The endowment to fund the post was raised entirely from donations, and Nick Baker, a naturalist and TV presenter, was recruited as the first Fellow.  His time is spent working with dons and boys, organising lectures, practical excursions, and expeditions, and in due course will be teaching Div as the Headmaster wants the impact of this post to be felt well into the future and beyond Winchester’s doors.

Outdoor learning is now being actively encouraged by Ofsted, and many schools across the UK are beginning to look beyond the traditional classroom and incorporate outdoor learning within the curriculum. It has also been proved that attention spans and therefore the quality of the learning experience is improved by simply being outside.

Originally the Biology Department identified a need for a safe and easily manageable space in which to take classes who are learning about Freshwater Biology and sampling techniques. After consulting with colleagues and with agreement from the Headmaster, The Duncan Louis Stewart Fellow in Natural History created a plan for an outdoor classroom and pontoon area next to the river, which would give students the opportunity to put their learning into practice and to engage with their surroundings.


  • To be simple, easily maintained and long lasting 
  • A well-engineered seating and writing area
  • Blend in with the local surroundings
  • Utilised by all disciplines 
  • To accommodate up to 30 students
  • Available to community groups and other schools 

It will be located near the corner of Meads adjacent to the Meads Wall and between this and the Logie stream. This area is close to the school, is not a public site, nor easily overlooked and is far enough away from other lessons for it not to be a distraction.

Outdoor Learning Map

Aerial view of the location of the Outdoor Learning area

Due to the very sensitive location of this project, planning permission is required.

  • Within the Winchester Conservation Area
  • Adjacent to the Wall surrounding College Mead, which is a Grade 11 Listed building
  • Part of the pontoon falls within the boundary of the South Downs National Park and therefore the proposals also have to be submitted to the National Park Authority
  • Within close proximity to The River Itchen, which is a Site of Special Scientific Interest and Special Area of Conservation.

Prior to submitting the planning application, a significant number of impact surveys are required to satisfy the authorities that all environmental factors have been considered. The consultants had a positive meeting with the planners and local authority environmental officers, who indicated that despite the Itchen having the highest level of protection, a sensitively considered project would gain their support.

At this stage the estimated cost is in the region of £100,000 - £150,000. Once the planning application has been submitted, Winchester will be seeking tenders which will give a clearer idea of cost. This figure represents the numerous survey’s that need to be undertaken, quality of material proposed as well as contingency, VAT and fees.

A planning application will be submitted in March which can take up to 3 months to secure. Once the money has been raised and the permission granted, it is hoped that the building can start. Ideally this would happen over the summer holidays and ready to be used in September 2018.

Please help us rise to the challenge and ensure that every boy at Winchester benefits from Cameron's legacy.

In addition to the Outdoor Learning area, the Duncan Louis Stewart Fellow in Natural History would also like to secure funding for:


If you are a UK or USA tax payer, the simplest way to donate, tax efficiently, a one-off or regular gift is online.

Information on alternative ways to give can be found here.

If you have any questions, please contact Winchester College Society, Development Office.
T. +44 (0)1962 621217

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