The outdoor are provides young children with one of the best possible environments in which to learn

Outdoor Learning Policies – Northern Ireland

Northern Ireland has a number of policies to support outdoor learning and play. Fundamentally, outdoor learning is seen as ‘part of good teaching and learning’ in Northern Ireland, deployed by teachers and educators to engage students in real-world, memorable and personal learning.

Note that Learning through Landscapes does offer outdoor learning and play training in Northern Ireland, please visit our outdoor learning training pages to find out more.

If you would like to find out more, then take a look at the projects that we have worked on previously, and those we have planned for the future.

Image Source: Malcolm Cochrane


Early Years In Northern Ireland

The Council for the Curriculum, Examinations and Assessments (CCEA) in Northern Ireland has produced and excellent resources guide for outdoor play and learning in the Early Years.

It is clear that ‘The outdoor are provides young children with one of the best possible environments in which to learn’. The guide is a very comprehensive and useful planning toolkit, you can find it here.


Primary & Secondary

According to the General Teaching Council for Northern Ireland (2011) it is a requirement that all teachers provide a range of out of classroom experiences. This however is not strongly reflected in the NI Curriculum (CCEA 2007), with only one explicit mention in the curriculum, under Physical Education. That said, NI has a strong connection with their natural world. In Education this is reflected in a number of third sector organisations providing learning outside the classroom, and a number of outdoor centres (both EA Youth Service and voluntary).

In 2009, Northern Ireland also took a stance on ‘Sustainable Schools’, which encompassed some areas of environmental sustainability. In 2018 this was followed by the Sustainable Goals National Implementation Plan 2018-2020. This included an intention to embed the goals within national policies.

Please note there are also new policies in draft, for play, outdoor learning and learning for sustainability, but until the NI government re-convenes, nothing can be placed into law.


Play in Northern Ireland

NI is a signatory of the United Nations Charter on the Rights of the Child (UNCRC), including Article 31 – the child’s right to play.

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