On 26th November the annual Awards for Outstanding Contribution to LOtC took place in Essex. Here are the tips from every nominee on how to get the most out of learning outside the classroom.

Simon Poote Collects His LOtC Award

Advice from the nominees for Best LOtC Advocate

“Being passionate about what you are trying to educate about makes all the difference to me. There are lots of individuals and organisations who can really help with specialist skills and knowledge and most importantly inspiration.”

Ellie Henderson, Education Centre Manager for Anglian Water’s Chelmsford Water Recycling Centre

“Take any subject outside whether it is for five minutes or five hours. Make it fun and show them that you are passionate about it. You will have a great experience learning together and they will remember it for a long time.”

Tania Orgill is Director of PlayWood Forest Schools

“Don’t be afraid, LOtC is a very enjoyable experience for teachers as well as children. Particularly do not be afraid to go on visits if you have a class that can demonstrate challenging behaviour. You will be astounded at the difference in their behaviour when you take them into a different environment.”

Catherine Talbot-Landers is LOtC and Art Subject Lead at the University of Edge Hill

“My mantra for planning LOtC is to think about Ps and Qs: Purpose; Place; People and Pedagogy.”

Sue Waite is Professor of Education at the University of Plymouth

Advice from the nominees for Best LOtC Innovator

“I would advise anyone seeking to develop their school grounds to begin by watching their children play outdoors…the children’s interests and needs should be the basis of any plan.”

Jeanne O’Keeffe is Assistant Headteacher at Oxclose Nursery in Durham

“At all opportunities involve autistic children and adults actively outdoors. The changes in them have been tremendous. Searching for insects and wild flowers works well and let them take photographs of the things they find so later they can show others and talk about it. This helps to build confidence, improve self-esteem and develop communication skills.”

Roger Parkinson is Woodland Creation Champion and Volunteer Speaker for the Woodland Trust.

“Look at your provision and try to find a patch of land (grass if possible) that you can adopt as your own outdoor learning area. Once you have a patch, let the children help you to develop it into a space that is theirs.”

Simon Poote is a Foundation Stage Teacher at Long Crendon School in Buckinghamshire

Advice from the nominees for Best LOtC Educator

“Get out with the kids and do things that teach them about the things they see every day but don’t see.”

Leila Atkins is Learning Outside the Classroom Co-ordinator at Castle Wood School in Coventry

“There’s nothing like getting ‘hands on’ – just talking to children loses their concentration. If they’re making seed bombs, pony grooming, egg collecting or bottle-feeding lambs, it’s much easier to teach husbandry of the animals and how we look after and feed them.”

Nick Hastings is Head Stockperson at Walby Farm Park

“Children are naturally inquisitive and when you let the children lead the learning, it is a fantastic experience for all.”

Stephanie Thorlby is an Outdoor Instructor at Sayers Croft

Advice from the nominees for Lifetime Achievement in LOtC

“As practitioners our job is throwing pebbles in the pool – we never see how far the ripples go or where they end up, but we should always know we have started something.”

Alison Gagg is Education Manager at Buckfast Abbey

“Children who have developed the confidence, the enthusiasm, spirit of enquiry, the breadth of mind and all the other attributes that learning outside the classroom confers are far more likely to achieve than those whose sole learning experience is from a desk in front of a white-board.”

Philip Stephenson is a Fellow of Homerton College, Cambridge

“Get the teacher to brief the class before they visit the farm, so they have an idea of what to expect.  Asking them to prepare some questions that they can ask is helpful.”

Martin Stevenson Birse is Farm Manager at Pitgaveny Farms

To read more about the LOtC award winner visit www.lotc.org.uk