Is your school up for some outdoor fun?
Learning Outside the Classroom is a complete, authoritative set of resources to support schools with their outdoor learning. The series, written by Juliette Green and with a Foreword written by the Council for Learning Outside the Classroom, consists of two books – book one covers learning outside the classroom for EYFS & KS1 and book two covers Learning Outside the Classroom for KS2.
Learning Outside the Classroom is about recognising that the best place for learning may not always be in a conventional classroom environment. The outdoors should simply be seen as another, much larger classroom, with an abundance of natural resources and many opportunities for hands-on, ‘real-life’ learning. When planning a project or unit of work, teachers should always consider how and where learning would best take place, and plan for frequent, continuous and progressive outdoor learning experiences.
The DCSF’s Learning Outside the Classroom Manifesto (DfES 2006) says that learning experiences outside the classroom ‘help us to make sense of the world around us by making links between feelings and learning. They stay with us into adulthood and affect our values and the decisions that we make. They allow us to transfer learning experienced outside to the classroom and vice versa.’ and that ‘Every young person should experience the world beyond the classroom as an essential part of learning and personal development, whatever their age, ability or circumstances.’
Learning Outside the Classroom also links very well with the concept of a ‘creative curriculum’, where learning activities are designed to match the needs of the pupils and the geographical and social context of the school.
The Qualifications and Curriculum Development Agency (QCDA) states that when pupils are thinking and behaving creatively, you are likely to see them:
- questioning and challenging
- making connections and seeing relationships
- envisaging what might be
- exploring ideas, keeping options open
- reflecting critically on ideas, actions and outcomes.
The National Curriculum website says ‘Learning activities which take place in the school grounds or local area enable children to think and behave imaginatively, the activities have a purpose, and the outcomes produced are original and valuable. Connections can be made between different parts of the curriculum and the children can apply creative thinking in order to solve problems.’
The Foreword for the Learning Outside the Classroom books has been written by The Council for Learning Outside the Classroom (CLOtC) who says about them:
‘The Council for Learning Outside the Classroom welcomes the publication of these books, because we believe that learning beyond the classroom walls should be an everyday part of the curriculum. By utilising the school grounds and local area for learning, the opportunities are accessible and relatively straightforward to plan.’
The Council exists to promote and champion Learning Outside the Classroom so all young people benefit from increased opportunities for high quality and varied educational experiences. The Council is now the leading voice for Learning Outside the Classroom, having taken over responsbility for the Learning Outside the Classroom Manifesto in April 2009, and aims to:
- Promote high quality learning outside the classroom that meets the needs of young people
- Influence and challenge learning outside the classroom policy and practice
- Raise the profile of learning outside the classroom and promote the benefits
- Provide support for education and LOtC professionals,
The organisation also provides practical solutions to help educational establishments overcome the perceived barriers to learning outside the classroom. Free online guidance on planning, running and evaluating LOtC experiences can be found on their website at www.lotc.org.uk
The Council’s Learning Outside the Classroom Quality Badge Scheme is a national benchmark that helps teachers identify venues offering good quality learning experiences and manage risk effectively. By selecting Badged venues for educational visits teachers gain assurance regarding the quality and safety of the provision and can reduce red tape when planning visits. For more information visit www.lotcqualitybadge.org.uk/.
Juliette Green, the author of LCP’s two Learning Outside the Classroom books, is a Birmingham-based primary school teacher who has taught all year groups from Nursery to Year 6. As well as these books, she has previously written various primary literacy and history teaching resources. Juliette has a BSc (Hons) degree in Applied Environmental and Resource Science and a Primary Education PGCE. She is also involved with the charity National Association for Environmental Education (NAEE), where she works on their website.
Here she explains in her own words how she became interested in outdoor learning:
‘My interest in the outdoors started young. From an early age, I would go into the garden to search for minibeasts and hunt for frogs and I still enjoy seeing wildlife in urban and rural environments.
‘I continued this passion for the outdoors into my teaching work, organising educational visits and activities in the school grounds. I have also worked on various environmental education projects, done voluntary work for various environmental charities, including Groundwork and the RSPB, and worked at several nature reserves. The work was both formal (e.g. outdoor science lessons for visiting school groups, energy-saving projects within schools) and informal (e.g. running environmental art and craft sessions, organising nature-based birthday parties) and really gave me an insight into the potential of using the outdoors as a learning environment.
‘I really feel it’s vital to include Learning Outside the Classroom as part of a rich and varied school curriculum. Outdoor learning enables children to gain first-hand experience of the world around them, and can contribute to healthy lifestyles and sustainable communities.
‘My books are based on activities, lessons and projects that can be taught in the school grounds and the local area and are also written for the average teacher, who does not need to have any special expertise or knowledge.’