Outdoor Learning Training

A contextualised learning approach using the local community and environment which connects with the everyday lives of the learners, building a sense of worth, place, self and others. MY Adventures Outdoor and Place-Based community learning can support teachers and school engage young people in different ways.

Background

There has been a building awareness and acceptance of the benefits for Learning outside the classroom (LOtC) in primary education over the past 15-20 years. Curriculum for Excellence paved the way for the supporting document Curriculum for Excellence through outdoor learning. Following that, we have seen the introduction of Learning for Sustainability, which states that ‘outdoor learning should be a regular, progressive curriculum-led experience for all learners’. The value placed on LOtC continues to grow with the publication of the latest version of How Good Is Our School (HGIOS 4).

Place-based, community learning is the most practical way of realising the Scottish Government’s vision:

Our vision for outdoor learning in Scotland is that:

  • all children and young people are participating in a range of progressive and creative outdoor learning experiences which are clearly part of the curriculum
  • schools and centres are providing regular, frequent, enjoyable and challenging opportunities for all children and young people to learn outdoors throughout their school career and beyond
  • teachers and educators embed outdoor learning in the curriculum so that learning in the outdoor environment becomes a reality for all children and young people

This type of learning, using local contexts, means there are no expenses required for outings. It encourages networks of relationships to be built up within communities, building social capital. Knowledge of place will be developed and real connections made which allows the members of that community to better understand and value one another as well as their place.

Overview

A bespoke program will be designed for your school, the aim of which is to work towards embedding place-based, outdoor learning in the day to day curriculum.

The program will focus on staff training and support, building links in the local community and developing a sense of place amongst staff and students.

At the end of the program, teaching staff should have a deeper understanding of what place-based community learning involves as well as feel increased confidence in their ability to plan and deliver outdoor learning sessions, allowing them to continue to do so independently.

Project Aims

  • Empower teachers
  • Raise motivation for Learning Outside the Classroom (LOtC)
  • Build community links
  • Assist in developing a sense of place and community in children and teachers.

Project Outcomes

  • Increased understanding of LOtC
  • Increased confidence in using the outdoor environment
  • Increased amount of learning occurring outside the classroom
  • Established links within the community
  • Established protocols to assist LOtC e.g. risk assessments, parent helpers, accessing resources

Rationale

Developments in Education

Scotland has acknowledged the importance of LOtC through policy documents for several years. The requirement for quality LOtC to be evident in schools is now increasing. The latest edition of How Good is Our School (HGIOS 4) published in September 2015, now features use of the outdoor environment and outdoor learning in several Quality Indicators against which schools will be assessed during inspections

Teaching staff

The following statements are made based on research, experience and discussions within the teaching profession.

  • There is a lack of a coherent understanding of the purpose and methods of outdoor learning
  • Teachers are unsure as to what ‘counts’ and what is expected of them
  • Teachers lack the time and confidence to make changes
  • Teachers feel motivated by trainers on courses but this quickly dissipates with the requirements and demands of teaching a full curriculum
  • The replicable, stand-alone activities often offered through CPD courses are not a long term solution to integrating outdoor learning into the curriculum
  • Barriers can often be overcome with relative ease but need someone to take charge and dedicate time to doing so.
  • The amount of outdoor learning is dependent on the value placed upon it
  • Schools in which outdoor learning is better established and embedded within the curriculum have an outdoor learning ‘champion’, often the head teacher

The community

People will never care for their community unless they feel an emotional connection with it. It is fundamental in the first instance to develop a sense of worth, of place, self and others.

Place-based education begins with the view of the learner as an inhabitant of a place, it engages with the learners lived experience of their immediate world(Wattchow & Brown, 2011, p.92). When learners are connected to the physical and social worlds they inhabit, authentic and contextualised learning can take place (Beames & Brown, 2016).

As the future of places is inherently linked with how humans experience them, there is tremendous potential for learning outside the classroom to make a significant contribution to the wellbeing of both people and places (Wattchow & Brown, 2011, p.75).

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