The benefits of Learning outside the Classroom
Learning outside the classroom is a broad term that includes: outdoor play, school grounds projects, environmental education, recreational and adventure activities, personal and social development. Outdoor Learning does not have a clearly defined boundary but it does have a common core. It can provide a dramatic contrast to the indoor classroom. Direct experience outdoors is more motivating and has more impact and credibility. The results from learning outside the classroom can be instantaneous as well as active and therefore impact on behaviour as well as tapping into the learning styles of the more kinaesthetic learner. Through skilled teaching, interpretation or facilitation, learning outside the classroom readily become a stimulating source of fascination, personal growth and can lead to breakthroughs in learning. Active learning readily develops the learning skills of enquiry, experiment, feedback, reflection, review, communication, problem solving, an enterprising attitude and cooperative learning – to name only some of the benefits. Learning outside the classroom can help to bring many school subjects alive as they focus on real results and consequences. For that reason the outdoors can have an impact on areas of the curriculum as diverse as imaginative writing and moral education. Learning outside the classroom also provides experiential opportunities allowing pupils to respond positively to opportunities, challenges and responsibilities, to manage risk and to cope with change.
Aims and objectives
Quality learning experiences in ‘real’ situations have the capacity to raise achievement across a range of subjects and to develop better personal and social skills. When these experiences are well planned, safely managed and personalised to meet the needs of every child they can:
- Improve academic achievement.
- Provide a bridge to higher order learning.
- Develop skills and independence in a widening range of environments.
- Make learning more engaging and relevant to young people.
- Develop active citizens and stewards of the environment.
- Nurture creativity.
- Provide opportunities for informal learning through play.
- Reduce behaviour problems and improve attendance.
- Stimulate, inspire and improve motivation.
- Develop the ability to deal with uncertainty.
- Provide challenge and the opportunity to take acceptable levels of risk.
- Improve young people’s attitudes
Outdoor Learning Locations.
- The school grounds.
Our large outdoor area is secure and offers excellent opportunities for both formal and informal learning and play.
- The local environment.
The locality around school harbours a wealth of opportunities within relatively accessible distance. Learners can develop their skills to explore their local environment. This can enrich all areas of the curriculum, for example through land and streetscapes, sites of special scientific interest, heritage sites, places of worship, theatres and country parks. These can be planned into all aspects of the curriculum and, by taking learners out of their normal environment, stimulate their curiosity and imagination.
- Residential places.
Staying away from home is a powerful way of developing key life skills, building confidence, self esteem, communication and team working, for example. Staying at outdoor and adventure centres provides children with an opportunity to widen their range of experiences and find new skills and interests in which they may excel, enhancing their ability to attain, achieve or simply improve the aesthetic or health aspects of their later life.
GREENSTED JUNIOR SCHOOL IS TOP OF THE CLASS FOR LEARNING OUTSIDE THE CLASSROOM
Greensted Junior School in Basildon has shown itself to have a strong commitment to providing frequent, continuous and progressive learning outside the classroom (LOtC) to all of its pupils by achieving a national LOtC (Silver) award.
Awarded by the Council for Learning Outside the Classroom (CLOtC), LOtC Mark (Silver) accredits those schools that have policies and practices in place to ensure that high quality LOtC is available to all pupils across all areas of the curriculum to benefit their learning and personal development. “Being awarded LOtC Mark (Silver) is a real coup for all the staff and governors here as it shows that we are really making strides in providing our pupils with potentially life-changing opportunities. We’re thrilled to get official recognition for our efforts and we look forward to building on this award to continue to improve our LOtC provision.”
LOtC Mark is awarded by CLOtC, the national voice for learning outside the classroom. CLOtC also provides free online information for teachers on how to plan and organise high quality LOtC activities. LOtC Mark is intended not only to recognise existing exemplary provision, but also to assist and support schools in developing their LOtC offer to enable all children to have access to meaningful LOtC experiences. LOtC Mark is the only national accreditation for schools which recognises, and supports, the development of learning outside the classroom across all subject areas.
Learning outside the classroom is known to contribute significantly to raising standards & improving pupils’ personal, social & emotional development. It also contributes to the quality and depth of learning (OFSTED, Learning Outside the Classroom – How far should you go? 2008).
Elaine Skates, Chief Executive of CLOtC said: “Learning outside the classroom provides the most memorable experiences in a child’s school life. LOtC Mark (Silver) demonstrates that the school is committed to delivering genuinely valuable learning outside the classroom experiences to all of their children and young people, and to continuing to develop that provision.
Learning outside the classroom has many proven educational benefits. LOtC Mark (Silver) will support schools in building on their LOtC provision, thereby ensuring that many more young people have memorable, exciting and valuable learning outside the classroom experiences. I congratulate Greensted Junior School on being awarded LOtC Mark (Silver).”
For more information about LOtC Mark, please visit http://www.lotc.org.uk/lotc-accreditations/lotc-mark/