Outdoor Learning should be for all children

22 Jan 2024
Children on a slide

Do you remember going on a residential trip when you were young? It’s often said that children remember outdoor learning experiences for a lifetime, and they are certainly a formative part of any child’s education.

It’s the combination of formal outdoor learning, playing in school grounds, and adventures further afield that provides relevance and depth to the curriculum in ways that are difficult to achieve indoors. Learning outdoors can be enjoyable, creative, challenging and adventurous; it helps children and young people learn by experience and grow as confident adults, people who value landscapes and natural heritage wherever they may live.

Outdoor learning is included in the school curriculum in Scotland, and earlier this month Tim Farron presented a Private Members’ Bill to make residential outdoor learning part of the school curriculum in the rest of the UK. As Tim said when presenting the Bill, outdoor education centres “do a phenomenal job in giving young people experiences which have incredible benefits to their mental health and confidence, and also create memories and friendships which last a lifetime.”

There are already great opportunities for children all around the country, and in our own backyard. A group of outdoor education centres in Surrey states that one of their priorities is to ensure that everyone benefits from learning in the natural environment, especially those young people whose learning style may not suit conventional classroom learning. The group works with a wide variety of youth support groups, using outdoor learning to re-engage young people who are at risk of being excluded from school or becoming NEET (Not in Education, Employment or Training).

However, these opportunities should not just exist for those parents and carers fortunate enough to afford the several hundred pounds that a residential week can cost. That’s why legislation is so important to support and enable outdoor learning to be an opportunity for all children in Spelthorne, in Surrey, and beyond, and it’s why we’re supporting Tim Farron in his campaign.