Emily Marchant – Swansea University
The relationship between child health, well-being and education demonstrates that healthier and happier children achieve higher educational attainment. An engaging curriculum that facilitates children in achieving their academic potential has strong implications for educational outcomes, future employment prospects and health and well-being during adulthood.
Outdoor learning is a way of teaching that is used to enrich learning, enhance school engagement and improve pupil health and well-being. However, its non-traditional means of achieving curricular aims are not yet recognised beyond the early years by education inspectorates. This requires evidence into its acceptability from those at the forefront of delivery.
A team of researchers based at Swansea University looked to explore head-teachers’, teachers’ and pupils’ views and experiences of an outdoor learning programme within the key stage two curriculum (ages 9-11) in South Wales.
The team gathered evidence through:
- One to one interviews with head-teachers and teachers
- Focus groups with pupils aged 9-11 from three primary schools.
Interviews and focus groups were conducted at the start of the study and at six months in. Schools introduced regular outdoor learning within the curriculum.
This study found a variety of range of benefits for pupils and schools, including:
- Pupils and teachers noticed improvements in pupils’ engagement with learning, concentration and behaviour.
- Positive impacts on health and well-being and teachers’ job satisfaction.
- Curriculum demands including testing and evidencing work were barriers to implementation, in addition to safety concerns, resources and teacher confidence.
Participants supported outdoor learning as a curriculum-based programme for older primary school pupils. However, embedding outdoor learning within the curriculum requires education inspectorates to place higher value on this approach in achieving curricular aims, alongside greater acknowledgment of the wider benefits to children which current measurements do not capture. Read the full publication here.