This week’s blog comes to us from Dr Carol Fuller. Carol is a sociologist and associate professor at Reading University. She works closely with Fiona Craig and colleagues at Ufton Court Adventure, researching ways in which outdoor residential visits impact on confidence, self-esteem and educational outcomes.
Research I am involved in looks at the ways that how a student identifies themselves as a learner, in terms of their confidence to achieve educationally and in terms of their future career ambitions, is key in explaining their educational aspirations and outcomes. My research explores how attitudes towards education and future educational and career aspirations are not always directly related to actual attainment or potential to attain but are the result of a student’s own understanding of their chances of success.
Jim Burt is Natural England’s Principal Adviser for Outdoor Learning& Outdoors for All. He recently published a blog on Natural England’s Gov.uk pages:
There’s a real buzz around getting kids into the outdoors at the moment – outdoor learning, outdoor play, outdoor education, wild time, whatever you want to call it, everyone’s talking about how important it is to get our children outdoors. From celebrities like Ben Fogle, to commercial companies, to renowned educationalists like Sir Ken Robinson, people are lining up to endorse the value of getting kids away from their screens and into nature. There’s even a new book from well-known author Richard Louv, Vitamin N, presenting us with over 500 nature-oriented challenges. Is this a tipping point?
View the full article here
This free booklet aims to provide school staff with a compelling introduction to the value and impact of well-planned regular outdoor learning for pupils, teachers and schools as a whole. It sets out the evidence for outdoor learning and shows how schools and their staff can overcome challenges to outdoor learning, and embed it into their policy and practice. Outdoor learning can cost very little, and yet can help schools achieve their priorities in ways that engage children with learning.
John Golding from Torpoint Community College explains his experience of being involved with the Natural Connections Demonstration Project, and how he has developed outdoor learning at the school.
At Torpoint Community College we got involved in the Natural Connections Demonstration Project three years ago. Through this project we set up an outdoor learning centre in the woods at nearby Antony House which is used by groups of students each week, in tutor groups or mixed age groups. The project allowed us to train a teaching assistant to become an outdoor learning leader to run these activities. We have also encouraged, through Outdoor Learning Challenges, all teachers to teach at least one lesson outside in specified fortnights. These have proved hugely popular with staff and students and now happen termly. From September, outdoor learning will be included in the Year 7 curriculum as part of our design technology rotation.
Today we re-blog an article from Jim Burt, Principal Adviser for Outdoor Learning in Natural England, published here.
As the school year draws to a close, children rush out into parks and gardens across the country, enjoying the sunshine and the freedom of being outdoors (and the chance to test out Pokemon Go!). But given their enthusiasm, what can be hard to understand is why children don’t get outside more often as part of their school day too. In the natural environment sector we’re always striving to better connect people with nature so they will care about it and want to help to protect it, and it’s recognised that starting early in life is important to foster that care. Schools are the obvious gateway, with regular, high quality outdoor learning as the tool.
We have had a lot of interest in the Natural Connections project infographics so we have attached them in this post for you to save and share with your networks. We hope that they can be used complement the impacts you are finding through other local and national projects.
As the findings and messages from the Natural Connections Demonstration Project filter out across the sector, Peter Butts, co-ordinator of the project at The Learning Institute, Cornwall’s Hub talks to us about what has really made a difference in the schools he has worked with.
The data tells an impressive story about the Natural Connections Project : significantly more lessons and classes in outdoor settings than previously; more children learning outside; more time given to outdoor learning; a much stronger engagement with outdoor learning across the curriculum. This is all great news but the statistics don’t tell the whole story, as every teacher knows. Importantly, we need to understand what drives and sustains this improvement. We need to find the engine.