Born Outdoors – Outdoor Citizens

Anita Kerwin-Nye, founder of Every Child Should, has written a blog for CLOtC.

My love for the outdoors and the role it has played in my personal well being is well documented. Similarly, how outdoor residentials and adventure learning took me down a very (positive) different path to the one I could have gone down.

So, I am particularly delighted to have joined the Institute for Outdoor Learning as an Advisor and pleased that part of this role includes working for the Outdoor Council on their campaign to take outdoor learning to more children and young people. I am thrilled that CLOTC Sector Working Group are supporting this growing campaign group.LA_CrabtreePrimary_LowRes_EmileHolba-14

The benefits of outdoor and adventure learning are well evidenced – for individuals, for families, for communities and for society.

And we know that there is much excellent provision.

But we also know that those who could benefit the most are – as is so often the case – those who access it the least. 2016 Natural England research showed that 1 in 10 children and young people had not been to a park, forest, beach or other natural environment in the last 10 years. Tom Bennett – the government’s advisor on behaviour –has articulated concerns that children are not being exposed to and supported in managing risk. This links to several studies on schools being risk adverse and that Heads are increasingly concerned about financial and professional penalties.

There is though demand. A recent survey commissioned by Bohunt Academy Trust outlines that most adults believe outdoor learning to be important and several recent surveys have called for outdoor learning, school trips and adventure to remain at the core of a rounded experience for children and young people.

And we know it works. Education Endowment Foundation confirms that Adventure Learning in its own right has a positive impact and we know that its impact on meta cognition, team work, communication and ‘resilience’ can be significant. It is a key contribution to what the Department for Education has identified as ‘life skills’.

The evidence tells us that the best outcomes will be achieved with a progressive experience – developing knowledge, skills and passion for outdoor learning from the early years into adulthood. We know what works – our challenge is how to take this to more children and young people in a way that sets up good habits for life long engagement with the outdoors and adventure.

Born Outdoors

This summer the Outdoor Council will launch ‘Born Outdoors’ – a new campaign to pull together the adventure learning and outdoor sector with a focus on building outdoor learning programmes around every child.

The campaign’s aims are to:

“ensure that the 750,000 four-year olds entering reception classes in September 2022 will be guaranteed high quality outdoor learning throughout their school life and through a rich set of family, youth work and community experiences”.


Outdoor Council want the children born in 2017 to be a generation ‘born outdoors’. We want them to have experiences at every age and stage of their childhood that move them towards being a generation of ‘outdoor citizens’ when they turn 18 in 2035.

This will help create a generation of resilient and healthy adults with a respect for, knowledge of and skills in life outdoors. Who have experience adventures throughout their childhood and understand how to manage risk and challenge. A generation whose academic success has been aided by the impact of effective outdoor learning.  A generation of future parents who know that outdoor education is a must have for their own children. A generation connected to nature in way that benefits their physical and mental well-being. A generation better equipped to address the challenges facing the environment.

Over the coming months we are working on two specific pieces to support schools and the outdoor and adventure community.

  • The Institute of Outdoor Learning – with some support from Natural England – have started work on a progression framework for outdoor learning that looks at what a progressive ‘outdoor learning passport’ might look like from a child’s perspective. This will be tested with the outdoor learning sector, parents, young people and schools over the months ahead.
  • Recognising the import of ensuring that in 2022 this group of children are entering primary schools that need to be equipped to support outdoor learning the Outdoor Council has committed to a specific piece of work on developing the ‘outdoor learning’ primary offer. A scaleable model – developed with primary school and education partners – that builds the capacity of every primary school to support high quality outdoor learning.

Born Outdoors will be a key theme of November 2018 Outdoor Learning Conference which will bring together the largest gathering of schools and outdoor learning professionals to consider the next steps in adventure learning for all.

For more information on Born Outdoors (previous working title Campaign 22) you can follow @outdoorcouncil_ on twitter and watch out for updates in Institute for Outdoor Learning mailings. For more information contact

Every child born outdoors and every adult a citizen of the outdoors.

About the Author Anita Kermin Nye

Anita Kerwin-Nye is one of two founders of Every Child Should, a new campaign to ensure all children can access a rich and rounded set of experiences by the time they are 18.

Anita is a long terms advocate (and deliverer) of enrichment activity in and out of school and especially for those who need it most. Every Child Should draws on her 20 year history working with organisations to support access to culture, the arts, the outdoors, residentials, citizenship, financial education, first aid, conflict resolution and wider life skills: for all not the few.

Previously Anita founded The Communication Trust, a collaboration of over 40 charities working in the field of speech, language and communication. These charities – often competitors – worked together under Anita’s leadership to develop and deliver a UK-wide programme of support to schools, parents and young people.

Anita is a qualified teacher and youth worker and spent her early career working in challenging schools, prisons and estates in Brighton and East Sussex.


This entry was posted in Learning Outside the Classroom, Natural Connections, Natural Environment, Other Blogs, Social Mobility. Bookmark the permalink.

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