Why LOtC means animated and engaged pupils

Date Posted: 18/04/2013

Elaine Skates, deputy chief executive of the Council for Learning Outside the Classroom explains how investing in LOtC can help you improve teaching and learning, and highlights the support available for schools and providers.

99 per cent of teachers agree that pupils are more animated and engaged when learning outside the classroom (opinion matters on behalf of TUI Travel PLC’s Education Division, 2010).

Given this widespread support, it is hardly surprising that more schools than ever before are integrating learning outside the classroom into the everyday life of their school.

Learning outside the classroom (LOtC) helps children relate what they learn at school to the world around them and is known to motivate young people, raising attainment and improving behaviour. As well as improving the quality and depth of learning, LOtC develops skills to equip young people for real life and employment.

LOtC appeals to different learning styles and is particularly effective in engaging different groups of pupils and children who do not respond well inside the classroom. It reinvigorates learning, making it an effective teaching tool across all subjects, ages and ability levels.

LOtC can happen anywhere from the school grounds or local community, through to visits to historic houses, art galleries, farms or nature reserves. Further afield, residential stays at adventurous activity centres or field trips abroad give children memories and hands-on skills that will last a lifetime.

The clear message for schools is that wherever it happens, LOtC should be continuous, frequent and progressive, and integrated into the curriculum. Ofsted recommends that:

‘When planned and implemented well, learning outside the classroom contributes significantly to raising standards and improving pupils’ personal, social & emotional development.’ (Learning Outside the Classroom- how far should you go? Ofsted 2008).

Ofsted also recommends that in order to be most effective, the learning objectives should be well defined and evaluated for effectiveness.

What is the Council for Learning Outside the Classroom?

The Council for Learning Outside the Classroom (CLOtC) was set up in 2009 to champion LOtC and ensure that every child should experience the world beyond the classroom as an essential part of learning and development, whatever their age, ability and circumstances.

CLOtC is a registered charity that supports schools and providers in offering high quality educational experiences that meet the needs of young people.

Where to find support

A key aim is to support schools in integrating more LOtC into the curriculum and overcoming the perceived barriers to LOtC. Free guidance on planning, running and evaluating effective LOtC experiences are available on the CLOtC website at lotc.org.uk, along with information on training and events to help improve your provision, resources and case studies to give you ideas on LOtC activities. Sign up to the free newsletter or join CLOtC to receive a great range of benefits to support LOtC development.

In 2012, CLOtC launched a new framework to help schools use LOtC most effectively to raise standards. LOtC Mark is the first national accreditation for schools, nurseries and other educational establishments which recognises and supports the development of LOtC across all subject areas. LOtC Mark benchmarks schools at either Bronze, Silver or Gold level, with support to help schools progress through the levels and drive up the quality of their LOtC offering. To register your interest, e-mail awards@lotc.org.uk.

Cut red tape when planning visits

CLOtC advises schools to look for the Learning Outside the Classroom Quality Badge when planning educational visits.

The LOtC Quality Badge has been awarded to nearly 1,000 organisations offering good quality learning experiences and managing risk effectively. This makes life easier for teachers organising educational visits and helps reduce paperwork

The LOtC Quality Badge is a valuable framework for venues offering LOtC, supporting the development and quality of educational provision. The LOtC Quality Badge is endorsed in the new Government health and safety guidelines for schools, and is the only accreditation scheme for all types of LOtC provision.

The majority of outdoor education advisers in England have signed up in support of the LOtC Quality Badge and are advising schools to look for it when planning visits. For more information visit lotcqualitybadge.org.uk.

10 steps to great LOtC

1. What are you trying to achieve? Make sure you focus on learning objectives to ensure the LOtC you offer has the most impact for your pupils.

2. Audit the opportunities for low cost LOtC in your own grounds and local community. LOtC is most effective when it is frequent, continuous and progressive, so doing LOtC little and often will significantly impact on achievement and enhance visits further afield.

3. Consider the LOtC opportunities you already offer. The chances are you are doing a lot already but do you offer opportunities across all areas of the curriculum and for all ages and ability levels?

4. Is your commitment to LOtC underpinned in your development plan and policies and procedures? Are the senior management, governors, parents and staff fully behind LOtC development in the school?

5. Think about how LOtC can raise attainment in reading, writing, Maths and Science. Many children learn best through doing so practical LOtC can help pupils make progress in these areas. CLOtC’s Resource Packs will give you some great lesson ideas.

6. Review whether your health and safety procedures proportionate and manageable. Remember time spent planning should be proportionate to the activity. Refer to the national guidance online at oeapng.info.

7. When planning an LOtC visit, talk to the provider about your objectives and the needs of your pupils. The opportunities are not always obvious; for example many museums and art galleries offer fantastic Maths and Science workshops.

8. Involve pupils in planning the visit. Getting them to plan the journey or think about keeping themselves safe during the visit will help them to develop valuable life skills and teach them to manage risk.

9. Reduce red tape by selecting a venue with the LOtC Quality Badge. Many Outdoor Education Advisers require less paperwork when you select a provider holding the LOtC Quality Badge. Search lotcqualitybadge.org.uk.

10. Remember to evaluate each activity to monitor its effectiveness and help you make future improvements.

Photo credit: Essex Outdoors.

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