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Outdoor Learning - a tool for teaching and learning

Outdoor learning has many benefits, and in a world of measuring progress and tracking achievement, it can sometimes get lost that the impact of outdoor learning is not simply a 'nice to have', but when done well, can form a crucial part of the wider curriculum.

Posted on Wednesday 13th March 2019

Outdoor Learning - a tool for teaching and learning

The main benefits of outdoor learning include:

  • Improved engagement in learning, by making it active and fun
  • Helping all groups of children make accelerated progress by breaking down barriers between staff and pupils
  • Demonstrating how learning can be applied in the real world
  • Transforming the culture of a school and driving improvement

Outdoor Learning - a tool for teaching and learning

What does Ofsted think?

In 2008, Ofsted published a report titled Learning outside the classroom: How far should you go?’ commenting on the effectiveness of a range of outdoor learning opportunities. It concluded that:

When planned and implemented well, learning outside the classroom contributed significantly to raising standards and improving pupils’ personal, social and emotional development. Learning outside the classroom was most successful when it was an integral element of long-term curriculum planning and closely linked to classroom activities.

In 2012, Ofsted commissioned a number of good practice case studies, one of which focused on St John’s RC Primary School. Again, the conclusion was positive:

This primary school regularly uses learning outside the classroom on its own site, in its local area and on visits and trips to provide rich experiences, promote pupils’ safety, raise expectations and attainment for all and narrow the achievement gap across the broad curriculum.

Outdoor Learning - a tool for teaching and learning

Positive impacts on pupils and teachers

Surveys conducted by the Institute for Outdoor Learning found that outdoor learning has a positive impact on pupils and teachers.

Outdoor Learning - a tool for teaching and learning


  • enjoyment of lessons (95 per cent)
  • connection to nature (94 per cent)
  • social skills (93 per cent)
  • engagement with learning (92 per cent)
  • health and wellbeing (92 per cent)
  • behaviour (85 per cent)


  • teaching practice (79 per cent)
  • health and wellbeing (72 per cent)
  • professional development (69 per cent)
  • job satisfaction (69 per cent)
  • teaching performance (51 per cent)

Outdoor Learning - a tool for teaching and learning

The Revival of Crumbledown School – A Poem about healthy eating

Truth to tell in years gone by,

Crumbledown School, no word of a lie,

Was an awful place,

Full of woe,

Where no sane child would want to go.

Morale was low, detentions high,

Hard to say exactly why…

Years had passed

With no respite,

It kept the head awake at night.


Mr Watkin did whatever he could,

But nothing he tried seemed to do much good.

Pupils walked with shoulders down,

Teachers dull,

Their clothes all brown

Until one day a girl arrived –

9 years old and

In Year 5 –

Her name was Sue and she had a dream,

Of starting up a football team.


The PE teacher was sadly lacking,

Shrugged his shoulders and

Sent her packing,

“It’s a daft idea by any token,

And anyway, my whistle’s broken.”

Undeterred, Sue went away,

And made a plan that very day,

A buzz began

Around the school,

A football team might be quite cool!


A squad was formed that self-same week,

So Mr Watkin took a peek,

To call them ‘chaotic’

Would be understating,

Even ‘a shambles’ would be overrating.

They lost every game, not just by a few

(I believe the last score was 30 to 2)

That being said,

They never gave up;

Sue was determined to lift the league cup.


Then an odd thought occurred, worth supposition,

That important as training

Might be their nutrition…

Carbohydrates and protein – they were the key!

She would plan their whole diet, as strict as could be.

So she banned crisps and pop, “be gone chocs and sweets”,

And made special veg smoothies

With cabbage and beets,

And a secret ingredient which nobody knew

And Sue won’t divulge, not even to you!


The sensational smoothies made the team more resilient,

And not only that –

They were actually brilliant!

They won every game, getting better each day

And nothing it seemed would stand in their way.

The children were thrilled by their new reputation

And Sue’s special smoothies

Were quite the sensation!

The school was transformed from where boredom was rife

To a place full of energy, vigour and life!


This tale has a moral, you must understand

That health and nutrition

Work best hand in hand.

So please don’t ignore what good it can do

To eat 5 a day and get exercise too.

Cut your sugar right down, be the best you can be,

You’ll feel so much better, just try it, and see!

And as for Sue’s smoothies,

The word got about

Now it’s rumoured that England are trying them out!

Outdoor Learning - a tool for teaching and learning

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