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Outdoor Learning: A key component for Education in Clackmannanshire

Outdoor Learning: A key component for Education in Clackmannanshire

In wishing to ensure the children of Clackmannanshire grow up nurtured, safe, respected and able to realise their full potential, we are embedding more outdoor learning through our education.

Our aim is that all children are well educated, skilled and able to contribute to society; and value, enjoy, protect and enhance their environment.

What is Outdoor Learning

Any form of learning which takes place outdoors ranging from reading a book outside through to a life changing four week expedition abroad with a large variety of outdoor experiences in between can be considered as outdoor learning.

Watch our video.

Why does outdoor learning matter?

All learning is important whether it takes place indoors or outdoors. However, sometimes the outdoor environment can be a more effective and stimulating place to learn than indoors.

Frequent and regular outdoor learning encourages children and young people to engage with their natural and built heritage and brings a host of benefits in terms of health and wellbeing. The outdoors also provides excellent opportunities to use a wide range of skills and abilities not always relevant in the classroom.

What are the benefits of Outdoor Learning?

Covid: Spending time outdoors
  • Less opportunities for transmission of Covid – research shows that fresh air, UV light and less hard surfaces make it harder for virus to live.
  • More space which enables physical distancing measures to be applied.
Physical health: Spending time outdoors
  • Improves the physical health of children and young people by increasing physical activity.
  • Helps your child meet the UK Physical Activity guidance of minimum 60 minutes of increased physical activity per day.
  • Being outside increases Vitamin D levels, which helps our immune systems and has been shown to be beneficial against Coronavirus.
Wellbeing: Spending time outdoors
  • Helps your child develop mental, social and emotional wellbeing by helping to reduce stress and anxiety, increase self esteem and confidence and develop emotional resilience.
Attainment: Spending time outdoors
  • Can improve academic outcomes.
  • Provides learning opportunities through real world experiences.
  • Inspires a curiosity through being a diverse and dynamic environment.

How can parents help?

The support and contribution of parents and carers is very important. They are key partners in delivery and help to prepare children and young people for outdoor learning experiences.

Parents and carers can often provide rich outdoor learning outwith educational settings, as well as assisting on outdoor visits.

Your child’s school may ask you to ensure that your child is suitably dressed for learning outside all year round. Being enthusiastic about being outdoors is one of the most valuable ways in which parents can help both their child and school or setting.

What happens at different stages?

Pre-school

The children at almost all pre-school settings are outdoors on a daily basis, learning through energetic play, exploration and investigation.

Primary

Children develop their knowledge and skills to higher levels. Learning outdoors often takes place in the school grounds and local community through exploration and study of the local landscape. There may be opportunities to visit a farm, forest, outdoor centre, historical site, country park etc.

Secondary

All curriculum areas provide a range of progressive learning opportunities outdoors. There are often opportunities to explore rural and urban spaces further afield and these could perhaps include a visit abroad.

The outdoors also offers many themes to support interdisciplinary study (working across traditional subject boundaries) or transition projects with real and relevant experiences to develop and deepen understanding. It is also common for learners to engage with more challenging adventure activities.

Will children and young people be placed at risk when outdoors?

Most outdoor learning activities carry no higher risk than activities and situations faced by learners on a day-to-day basis. To ensure that the benefits of any planned activity outweigh the risks many practitioners utilise a risk/benefit approach which is advocated by the Health and Safety Executive.

Schools and local authorities will also have comprehensive guidance in place which teachers and others will follow.

Risk management is a life skill and learners should be educationally involved in the process from the outset. This will help learners to make good decisions about risks as they develop.

What measures have been put in place to manage the safety of my child whilst learning outdoors?

Schools and local authorities have guidelines for all off-site visits. Measures will be in place to ensure that there are agreed ratios of adults to children, staff are competent and emergency arrangements are in place.

Children and young people will, where appropriate, be encouraged to manage their own and others’ safety.