This is a broad term that includes visits to venues, historical sites, outdoor play in the early years, school grounds projects, environmental education, recreational and adventure activities. What all these activities share is the notion of direct experience and the chance for pupils to see, hear, touch and smell the `real thing’.
Learning outside the classroom can provide opportunities for school subjects to be brought to life in an exciting and multi-sensory way and for learning to take place through hands on discovery. This kind of learning very often happens in areas where actions have real results and consequences and where children’s experiential learning allows them to:
“Respond positively to opportunities, challenges and responsibilities, to manage risk and to cope with change and adversity.”
Source: DfES & QCA, The National Curriculum, `Aims for the School Curriculum’ 1999.
Through skilled teaching, interpretation or facilitation, experiences beyond the classroom readily become a stimulating source of fascination, personal growth and breakthroughs in learning. Active learning readily develops the learning skills of enquiry, experimentation, feedback, reflection, review and cooperative learning and by traveling outside of their usual classroom context children start to draw on and develop their social skills.
Although learning outside of the classroom takes place away from the school environment, the experience can serve as an extremely valuable resource and stimulus for ongoing classroom based learning.
“Educational Trips and Visits are particularly effective when young people engage in well planned and structured, first hand experiences in small groups, with opportunities to reflect and build upon those experiences.”
Source: Educational Trips and Visits, Health and Safety Guidance Notes, City of Salford (Revised 2003)
For more information visit www.outdoor-learning.org
A copy of Learning Outside of the Classroom Manifesto can be downloaded from: http://www.teachernet.gov.uk/teachingandlearning/resourcematerials/growingschools/