Outdoor learning

An introduction to outdoor learning

by Fellowship Agency May 3, 2017

Learning in the outdoors is how we make learning really come alive for our students in all subject areas, engaging and inspiring them to take their studies further. It’s only when you go outside and find real world examples that diagrams and theories have context, resonance and meaning. The outdoor learning room should be used regularly throughout the year; going outdoors shouldn’t be reserved for the occasional school trip but should be a regular, normal part of the school day at every time of year.

A learning room without walls introduces a whole different set of challenges. Careful management of this learning room becomes even more fundamental if you want to exploit it to its fullest educational potential. Weather, equipment, logistics, clothing, behaviour management and health and safety do not need to put you off. Just as with indoor space, informed planning, how you lay out your equipment, how you make use of the space and guide your pupils through the learning is key to achieving success.

Dr Katherine Forsey

The curriculum places a strong emphasis on using the outdoors. With topics such as plants, habitats and seasonal change, it is straightforward to see the links and impossible to learn effectively without going outside. However, the outdoor learning room provides a wealth of opportunities to enrich the teaching of all curriculum subjects, both core and foundation, because all subject teaching benefits from a real world context.

Use of the outdoor learning room should occur across all subject areas and be built into curriculum planning, with clear learning objectives that consider what your students will be learning, how it is best learned and the most effective place for this learning to take place. The quality of the learning taking place in your outdoor learning room should be evaluated just the same way as you do indoors, how else can we ensure maximum impact on achievement, personal development and well-being?

OFSTED recommends that schools and colleges should: “Ensure that their curriculum planning includes sufficient well structured opportunities for all learners to engage in learning outside the classroom as a key, integrated element of their experience’ and “Ensure equal and full access for all learners to learning outside the classroom by monitoring participation in activities by different groups of learners and removing any barriers.”

Are you ready for this challenge? Can you remove the barriers? Do you know how to make effective and integrated use of your outdoor learning room? Gratnells Learning Rooms is here to support you with this. There will be a Gratnells Learning Rooms module dedicated to the outdoors. Gratnells Learning Rooms will help you overcome barriers and misconceptions around learning outside the classroom so you are equipped to make best use of this valuable teaching resource.

Useful links

Gratnells What’s in my tray? – Outdoor – https://gratnellslearningrooms.com/teaching-resources/whats-in-my-tray/outdoor/

11 proven benefits of outdoor learning  http://www.bachelorsdegreeonline.com/blog/2012/11-proven-benefits-of-outdoor-learning/

Summary of research http://www.englishoutdoorcouncil.org/research.in.outdoor.learning.html