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Outdoor Learning Curriculum

Justina Snow

Outdoor Learning is a broad term that includes outdoor play in the early years, school grounds projects, environmental education, recreational and adventure activities, personal and social development programmes, team building, education for sustainability, adventure therapy … and more. Outdoor Learning does not have a clearly defined boundary, but it does have a common core. 

All forms of Outdoor Learning value direct experience Outdoor Learning can provide a dramatic contrast to the indoor classroom. Direct experience outdoors is more motivating and has more impact and credibility. Through dedicated teaching, interpretation or facilitation, outdoor experiences readily become a stimulating source of fascination, personal growth and breakthroughs in learning. 

Outdoor Learning is active learning in the outdoors.  Through Outdoor Learning our pupils learn through what they do, through what they encounter and through what they discover. Our pupils learn about the outdoors, themselves and each other, while also learning outdoor skills. Active learning readily develops the learning skills of enquiry, experiment, feedback, reflection, review and cooperative learning.  At Eastgate our Outdoor Learning lessons link to our curriculum lessons to further deepen the learning experience.  Each lesson offers the opportunity to be immersed in Cultural Capital through Scientists, Artists and Historians etc.  

Outdoor Learning is real learning. Not only does Outdoor Learning happen in the natural environments where our pupils can see, hear, touch and smell the real thing, it also happens in an arena where actions have real results and consequences. Outdoor Learning can help to bring many school subjects alive while also providing experiential opportunities for fulfilling the National Curriculum aim “to enable pupils to respond positively to opportunities, challenges and responsibilities, to manage risk and to cope with change and adversity.” Source: DfES & QCA, The National Curriculum, ‘Aims for the School Curriculum’ 1999. 

Outdoor Learning broadens horizons and stimulates new interests. There is no limit to the experiences and curiosities that outdoor environments and activities can arouse. Participants frequently discover potential, abilities and interests that surprise themselves and others. Safety codes provide clear boundaries and learning goals give clear direction, but Outdoor Learning draws in energy and inspiration from all around. ‘Broadening horizons’ is a common outcome.