The group has set out a plan to help schools adapt their lessons, curriculum and learning environments as and when they re-open to more pupils.

Outdoor learning

Source: Pixabay

The consortium, which represents over 500 organisations, has set out three ways to support schools by helping them enable high quality learning experiences in school grounds, local spaces and home environments, and to support pupils transition between these different learning environments.

The Prime Minister has indicated a gradual re-opening of more schools from 1st June, and the Department for Education’s Coronavirus (COVID-19) guidance on implementing protective measures in education and childcare settings recommends considering which lessons or classroom activities could take place outdoors.

The consortium believes that helping schools to deliver programmes of regular, progressive lessons outside the classroom will make a significant contribution to:

  • enabling schools to deliver their curriculum safely and effectively.
  • delivering benefits to pupil health and wellbeing, both at home and at school.
  • build better home school learning partnerships (enabling teachers to develop consistent learning experiences for all their pupils whether at school or home).
  • mitigate against widening inequalities resulting from school closures.

Taking lessons outside is a vital tool for schools to help deliver their whole curriculum whilst ensuring students keep active, stay healthy and keep learning. Consortium members have years of experience and extensive reach to support schools and educational setting across home nations. The group is staffed and resourced to quickly respond to support schools and teachers now, and to build their confidence in taking as many of their play, lessons and learning activities outside as possible, safely, and effectively.

“The benefits of learning outdoors have never been so important or so urgently needed. The need to support schools and families take play and learning safely and effectively beyond the classroom has never been greater.’’ 

Martin Smith, chair of the Outdoor Education Advisers’ Panel

Dr Anne Hunt, chief executive of the Council for Learning Outside the Classroom, said: “Children and young people are dealing with high levels of disruption, uncertainty and a lack of physical connection with their friends and with the natural world and the inequalities are widening. There are few so well-evidenced interventions that offer – with almost universal availability and at very low cost - the immediate opportunity to make such a big difference to so many children and young people. With government encouraging time outdoors as part of our recovery strategies, now is the time to take learning outside the classroom.’’

The consortium can support schools through the recovery period in three main ways:

  1. Offer schools access to quality-assured resources and CPD to help them develop, deliver, and evaluate their own programmes of learning beyond the classroom, whether at school or at home.
  2. Offer schools support from independent, skilled professionals to help identify high quality support and resources most appropriate to meet their needs, and to accompany them (if needed) as they take their learning outside.
  3. Help schools learn from each other by sharing their experiences of planning, delivering, and evaluating their adapted, learning beyond the classroom practice. 

The consortium is facilitated by the Council for Learning Outside the Classroom (CLOtC) with the support of the Outdoor Education Advisers’ Panel and the Institute of Outdoor Learning. Consortium members represent a number of key groups including the School Travel Forum, Field Studies Council, the Institute for Outdoor Learning and the Expedition Providers Association.