Monday, 2 May 2016

Is Your Outdoor Learning ‘Blood Stream’ or ‘Bolt On’? 7 key indicators

We visit and work with many schools installing facilities and providing resources and staff development for outdoor learning. One of the things we try to establish is the degree to which their outdoor learning is embedded and culturally normal within the teaching and wider curriculum within the school. We ask the questions and try to establish if outdoor learning is ‘bloodstream’ or ‘bolt-on’. We offer 7 points below which might indicate where your own school might be on this spectrum.

Does it take place regularly (even daily), in all weathers across all 3 terms, both on the school site and beyond? 
Is it an occasional, purely fair weather activity predominantly taking place during the summer term!

Is it genuinely co-curricular and mapped across all areas of teaching and learning at your school?
Is it extra-curricular and seen as an ‘outlier’ or separate part of your teaching and learning?

Is it the responsibility of all staff at your school and coordinated by a small core team that spans different age groups and teaching disciplines?   
Is it mostly practised by and the responsibility of one or two enthusiastic teachers that the school relies on?

Is it common practice and spoken about at staff meetings? Would it be a key observable part of your teaching and learning during an inspection?
 Is it quite a rare event and seen as out of the ordinary, to the point where it becomes a talking point in and out of the school when it happens?

Does it feature on your school website and social media channels? Is it spoken about during open days and parents’ evenings? Is it a key part of your offer to prospective parents and children?
Is it used more as a PR piece, mainly to ‘show off’ the school grounds? Is the communication of core messages led by staff or purely the Head/SMT

Is time built into the school timetable to allow for the planning, preparation, teaching and evaluation of your outdoor learning? Are teaching staff encouraged to take their teaching outside the classroom, supported and praised when they do?
Is outdoor learning practice only a one off event (termly of half-termly) that is heavily planned for, themed and scheduled to ‘force’ participation across the whole school or a particular year group? The rest of the time is it left ad hoc and entirely at the discretion of individual teachers?

Does co-curricular outdoor learning take place for children of all ages at your school?
Is it purely taught at younger years through Forest School or equivalent and then abandoned due to the pressures of delivering an academic curriculum.

Please comment and let us know where you as an individual or your school are at on the journey of learning outside the classroom.

1 comment:

  1. I REALLY REALLY LOVED this one. Many like others to think they're committed to an Outdoor Ed programme and market as such, but when one takes a closer look, it's all words!