Through her work as the Founding Headteacher at The Coombes School, Susan Humphries, MBE, MA, has spent forty years developing teaching methods that are based on outdoor experiences and an understanding of the natural environment.
Her work illustrates how outdoor teaching can contribute to a traditional school education, whilst at the same time boosting self confidence and personal growth in children.
Susan’s talent for combining landscape architecture, plants, children, art and culture drove an effective and joyful learning experience at Coombes. Her techniques in connecting curriculum to the school grounds have inspired designers and educators all over the world. Researchers from England, Sweden, Japan and the USA have studied the school’s teaching methods and environment. Susan has also traveled the world sharing the philosophy and techniques used by The Coombes School.
Susan retired form her position as headteacher in 2002, but has continued to be engaged with schools ever since. In 2011, she was awarded an Honorary Doctorate by the Faculty of Natural Resouces and Agricultural Sciences at the Swedish University of Agricultural Sciences in Uppsala, Sweden, to acknowledge the foundations that she had laid in building individual and group responsibility for healthy ecosystems and sustainable use of natural resources.
In 2012, Susan Humphries collaborated with Susan Rowe to write a book call The Coombes Approach: learning through an experimental and outdoor curriculum, to share The Coombes School’s perspective. In 2018 she received an award from the International School Grounds Alliance in acknowledgement of her work in the field and her influence around the globe.