With the recent announcement of the government’s new funding formula, there are huge concerns that already cash-strapped schools are set to loose even more and make cuts on, amongst other things, learning outside the classroom activities. These activities are now more important than ever in order to extend experiences beyond the classroom, raise achievement and social mobility, and reduce the attainment gap.
‘The report, The implications of the National Funding Formula for schools, finds that half of primary and secondary schools face large real terms, per pupil, cuts in funding of between 6-11 per cent by 2019-20.’ Education Policy Institute.
Senior Leaders in Schools – what can you do?
The most effective learning outside the classroom activities, educational visits and residentials are never standalone experiences. Ensure that LOtC is embedded in your curriculum and school development plan and supports your strategic objectives around improving attainment and progress, personal development, wellbeing and social, moral, cultural and spiritual education.
Tips for deriving the most value from your LOtC activities
- Provide CPD for staff to ensure effective planning for LOtC
- When signing off visits check that learning objectives are clear:
- Evaluate LOtC to demonstrate the value of activities against your strategic objectives: www.lotc.org.uk/plan-deliver-lotc/reviewing-and-reflecting-on-lotc/
- Use the latest evidence of the impact of LOtC to help you make the case to governors and parents: www.lotc.org.uk/wp-content/uploads/2011/06/Research-Evidence-Supporting-the-Benefits-of-LOtC-July-2016.doc
- Use the Brilliant Residentials criteria and the English Outdoor Council’s high quality outdoor learning checklist when working with providers to ensure you are receiving high quality provision
Running effective lower-cost residentials
Planning Learning Outside the Classroom experiences
Natural connections Project infographic
EEF Using self-regulation to raise attainment in writing
Teachers – what can you do?
Learning outside the classroom activities do not just mean safari trips to Africa or skiing in France…activities do not need to be expensive or far afield for them to have maximum impact on children’s learning!
Tips for low cost LOtC
- Your school grounds are convenient, easy accessible and safe. Activities can be led by your own staff members with the resources to hand. Please download the pdf with lots more information about using your school grounds, the importance of, and the benefits. Ideas include:
- Using wooded areas for Forest School activities.
- Habitats such as playing fields, hedges, meadows and ponds for field study and science.
- The whole school grounds from orienteering, outdoor literacy (story telling) and practical numeracy, visual and performing arts (e.g. murals, sculptures, mosaics, music and drama).
- School garden or growing areas for science sustainability and food education.
- Play areas for problem-solving/team building, games and activities.
- Playground equipment and climbing/traversing walls for adventurous activities.
- Establish partnerships with other schools (with a different setting).
- Visits to the local parks to learn more about local wildlife and green spaces.
- Walking tour of a nearby town to learn local history, understanding the past and town development, or urban design.
- Support a community need by getting involved with community projects or charities.
- Look at the resources on planning low cost residentials on the learning away website
Download the CLOtC Resource Packs section for lesson ideas.
Transforming Outdoor Learning in Schools – A booklet produced by Plymouth University outlining the value and impact of well-planned regular outside the classroom learning for pupils.
Creating a garden or outdoor classroom in school grounds – Groundwork
Ground work Teaching Resources for Outdoor learning.
Visit the Creative Star Learning blog for posts about developing school grounds and outdoor spaces.
Top Tips for schools to engage with biodiversity – from the RSPB.
Making the most of your schools grounds – Swansea Environmental Education Forum.
Free lesson ideas from Outdoor Classroom Day.
Providers of quality learning experiences – what can you do?
Whilst there may be costs involved in attending a venue or provider of educational experiences, be it a museum a religious building or adventurous activity centre, they often provide important learning outside the classroom activities for children, gaining specific hands-on, ‘real life’ experiences they may not get in another setting.
To encourage regular schools visits to your venue, there are ways to offer schools options that are accessible in the current climate.
- Ensure that your offer explicitly delivers against schools’ priorities such as national curriculum attainment targets, health and wellbeing, personal development and character education, or social, cultural, moral and spiritual education and British values.
- Gather evidence, through evaluation and case studies, of how your provision has positive impacts in the above areas to help support marketing. Share your evidence and case studies on the LOtC website.
- Offer discounts for group sizes or multiple visits.
- Offer half-day, bespoke packages or stripped-back experiences – suitable to the school’s budget.
- Encourage school groups to walk, take public transport or ask for parent contribution towards transport costs.
- Combine packages for more than one school sharing the educational visit.
- Create a package of learning that can be delivered on the school premises (where appropriate).
Share your Stories
Schools or Providers – have you already felt the tightening of budgets but still strive to offer children learning outside the classroom experiences? Share your stories of success and creative ways of delivering learning outside the classroom. Contact us on firstname.lastname@example.org or submit a case study on our website: http://www.lotc.org.uk/category/case-studies/.
Visit the ‘Fair Funding for All Schools’ website to find out what you can do: http://www.fairfundingforallschools.org/act-now.html