What makes a school trip outstanding?

Date Posted: 09/12/2014

Following the Learning Outside the Classroom conference on 4th December 2014, Sarah Holt reports on what makes a field trip outstanding.

You could say that Steve Graham has had some of the best seats in the house when it comes to observing the effect of learning outside the classroom.

Currently the head of service for the North Yorkshire Outdoor Learning Service, Steve has delivered outdoor activities to special schools in the past, plus he’s an OFSTED inspector.

And that’s why Steve was asked to run a workshop at the Learning Outside the Classroom conference 2014, into what makes a field trip experience outstanding.

After years of both unofficial and official research, Steve has identified several elements that make learning outside the classroom experiences exceptional. These include…

Creativity: Children are coming up with ideas that could be classed as thinking outside the box.

Transfer of learning: Pupils are relating and connecting their learning to other ideas they have learnt in the classroom.

Ownership: Students are taking the helm of their learning and playing a part in guiding it.

Motivation: Children seem enthusiastic about what they are learning about and energetic.

Engagement: Pupils are absorbed in the tasks in hand.

Inspiration: Children are roused by what they are learning about.

Interdependence: Students are working together and success is a team effort.

Of all the above values, Steve identified creativity and ownership as the most effectual in having a transformational effect on pupils’ learning.

However, for learning outside the classroom initiatives to be truly transformational, they need to be embedded in the teaching ethos of a school, as far as Steve is concerned.

“Learning outside the classroom needs to be transferred back into the classroom. It’s not something ‘extra’ to do, or a one off,” said Steve.

To find out more about the practices of the North Yorkshire Outdoor Learning Service, visit www.outdoored.co.uk.

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