Outdoor Learning in school and nursery grounds

What is it?

Outdoor learning is broad term that covers many different areas of education, play and self-development. From early years experiences outdoors, through short-term lessons in school grounds, therapeutic interventions such as Forest School, residential and adventurous trips and self-guided expeditions as part of Duke of Edinburgh scheme, outdoor learning should be a regular and progressive part of all children’s education.

Here at LtL we focus on opportunities within school grounds and local green-spaces. We believe this is low cost in time and finances, requires a simpler approach to paperwork and offers a more regular opportunity for children to be outdoors. School grounds and local spaces also lend connection to ‘place’, encouraging ownership and understanding in a way that learning inside the classroom cannot.

If you would like to find out more about training opportunities, please follow the link below.

Funding, resources and support for outdoor learning

It is our belief that outdoor learning is a context for learning – it is not a stand-alone subject, nor it is ‘done’ through a single day or experience each year. We also believe that play is the fundamental way in which we learn about the world around us, and that the intrinsic motivation for play can be used to benefit children’s health, wellbeing and learning, while having fun and outwith the direction of adults.

Put simply, it is part of good teaching and learning for all ages.

We therefore use the outdoors as a way of extending and enriching curriculum led learning. Simple ideas such as taking what is a black and white shape on a worksheet into the school grounds means that the learner has to employ creativity, problem solving and observation to realise that the shape is also all around them on school buildings. It is this simple approach that can add real value to the learners, raising engagement and attainment.

Our work is to train educators and teachers – we do not lead (many) sessions with pupils ourselves. We equip, train and support staff to lead their own sessions and embed them in their typical week and term at school or nursery.

Free outdoor learning resources

We have a broad range of online resources, most of which are freely available, although a few require LtL membership.

Free outdoor learning lesson ideas can be downloaded by anyone from our website. We are always open to new ideas, so please share with us as you can your work.

Publications and guidance on outdoor learning and play can be found collated on our publications page.

Our YouTube channel has some great short films, do go and have a look.

We have some specific advice on managing risk for outdoors and school trips. In our experience, and in-line with national guidance, the paperwork required for school grounds and local spaces (classed as ‘Routine and Expected’), is less than many expect.

UK Guidance and Evidence for schools and nurseries

All our work is embedded within the UN Global Goals for Sustainable Development and the UN Convention on the Rights of the Child (UNCRC). We refer to this as ‘Learning for Sustainability’, of which outdoor learning and play are key elements. You can read about how in more detail here.

From this global context we then have some more local guidance:

Outdoor Learning policies in England – click here

Outdoor Learning policies in Scotland – click here

Outdoor Learning policies for International Schools – click here

Our advice, training and support for outdoor learning

Learning through Landscapes has many projects on at any given time. With 30 years experience, from small single school work through to national award-winning projects, we have an envious track record of success in delievering increased volume and quantity of outdoor learning and play.

We train early years educators, teachers and education leaders how to provide excellent outdoor learning and play for all. You can browse and book on our courses on our outdoor learning training pages.

We can design school and nursery grounds, working with our network of LtL Accredited Professional Landscape Architects. You can read about this service on our School Grounds Design page.

Learning through Landscapes also accredits those who work with educators and teachers to deliver better outdoor learning and play. You can read about our LtL Professional Accreditation here.

You can browse our current current projects page, including our funding for schools through Local Schools Nature Grants.

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