Research focus: The Work on The Wild Side report

Date Posted: 30/06/2017

STO looks into recently released research that suggests that the UK's leading schools place a high value on learning outside the classroom (LOtC). 

Earlier this year the social change consultancy Not Dead Fish joined forces with the Learning Away consortium, The Council for Learning Outside the Classroom (CLOtC), and the Association of Heads of Outdoor Education Centres (AHOEC) to research the value that the UK's leading schools placed on outdoor learning and residential experiences.

The results of the study were released at the start of summer and findings suggest that schools with some of the best Progress 8 scores in the country, and those that succeeded in the Pupil Premium Awards, all seem to place a high value of giving pupils the opportunity to learn outside the classroom. 

Method

Researchers on the study analysed both Primary and Secondary schools to see what they said about outdoor learning in their external prospectuses and websites. Plus they looked at Ofsted reports for each school to see if inspectors mentioned the provision of outdoor learning in their conclusions.

Findings in more detail

The Work on the Wild Side report found that Ofsted reports for some of the UK's leading schools specifically mentioned the provision of LOtC experiences.

Examples included a report on Preston Muslim Girls High School from January 2917 that said; ‘Extra-curricular opportunities include hiking, camping, adventure days, museum and theatre visits. These make a profound difference to the pupils’ experience of the world and broaden their horizons. Pupils embrace all opportunities with open arms.’

The study also found schools that performed best on Progress 8 tables in the UK, also placed a high value on LOtC, actively promoting the practice on their websites.

Lower Kersal Primary's website stated; ‘The school is fully committed to supporting field trips and visits. We are also keen to create as many 'memory makers' as we can throughout the year and insist that every class from Year 1 upwards experiences either a trip or special event each half term'.

Sacred Heart Catholic School's website, meanwhile, said; ‘Here at Sacred Heart, we believe that learning experiences do not just take place in the classroom, or even in school, but in our local community and further afield too. We appreciate that pupils learn and develop into well-rounded individuals when they are camping in the countryside of when they are visiting other countries and experiencing other cultures. This is why we offer an extensive programme of extracurricular and enrichment activities at Sacred Heart school, from after school sports clubs to trips abroad to places as far afield as Thailand, America and Spain.’

Work on the Wild Side also found that schools that were recognised in the annual Pupil Premium Awards also held LOtC in high regard. 

In talking about its use of pupil premium, Camp Primary in Hertfordshire said; ‘We subsidise school trips, such as the Y6 residential trip, to enhance the curriculum, ensure all children are able to participate and have the opportunity to experience new and challenging activities.’    

Conclusion

Not Dead Fish concluded; "While the report does not indicate the quality of outdoor learning or residentials offered by the schools analysed, the majority of schools with the highest Progress 8 scores, and all of those listed below, use the outdoor and residential programmes they offer in their external prospectuses or websites as an important and valuable part of the education they provide.

"In conjunction with their high performance, this suggests a connection between an ethos of learning that includes outdoor and residential and academic strength. 

For more information or to read the report in full visit www.notdeadfish.co.uk.

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