As the last days of August begin to slip away, a slight chill to the morning ensues and thoughts turn to children returning to school. School though does not have to be a place that consigns children to classrooms, indeed those places that use outdoor space for education note multiple benefits, making for happier, healthier students who are more motivated to learn, as found in a major report (July 2016) The Natural Connections project’.
Sue Waite, Associate Professor in Outdoor Learning at Plymouth University, said: “The model for this project was built on substantial evidence into both the benefits and challenges schools face when embedding outdoor learning into core teaching. By working directly with teachers we’ve helped to bring about a sustainable culture of outdoor learning across schools that will continue long after the project has ended and will leave behind a lasting legacy.
For the first time, the Natural Connections project provides strong evidence that learning outdoors has multiple benefits for school children. 92% of teachers surveyed said that pupils were more engaged with learning when outdoors and 85% saw a positive impact on their behaviour.
Key findings from the project
95% of children surveyed said outdoor learning makes lessons more enjoyable
90% said they felt happier and healthier
72% of children said they got on better with others
93% of schools said outdoor learning improves pupils’ social skills
92% of schools said it improves pupils’ health and wellbeing and engages them with learning
85% of schools saw a positive impact on behaviour
90% of staff surveyed found outdoor learning to be useful for curriculum delivery
72% of schools reported that outdoor learning had a positive impact on teachers’ health and wellbeing
79% of teachers surveyed said outdoor learning had a positive impact on their teaching practice and 69% said it had a positive impact on their professional development
72% said outdoor learning improved their health and wellbeing and 69 per cent said it had a positive impact on their job satisfaction
Our own education programs seek to utilise the benefits of outdoor education. So we are looking to expand the outdoors space we use for the forthcoming academic year by incorporating a community wood space in Nelson. “I’m looking forward to using the new space,” said Lucy Thornton, our Forest School tutor, “such space is so good for developing teamwork and communication skills”.