We have welcomed the ‘Living Classrooms’ scheme from the RSPB and Field Studies Council and have again called for outdoor learning to be placed on the National Curriculum. You will recall that our own proposals were unanimously adopted by the Children, Schools and Families Select Committee on Outdoor Education in 2010.
With 92 per cent of parents wanting their children to have more opportunities to get into the countryside to learn about farming and nature and 85 per cent of children wanting to take part in countryside activities through school, the Countryside Alliance believes that an entitlement to outdoor learning should be created within the National Curriculum.
The Alliance recognises that learning outside the classroom, not only gives children the building blocks for life; it gives them a practical understanding of the world around them, builds self-confidence and develops a sense of responsibility.
Learning outside the classroom is as vital to a child’s education as learning their times tables. Alongside the considerable health and well-being benefits of spending time in the natural environment, there is also evidence that today’s children are becoming dangerously ignorant of rural issues.
The recently published Natural Environment White Paper has made some promising commitments to increase outside learning for school children. The Countryside Alliance welcomes the Government’s recognition of the importance of this issue and calls on the Secretary of State for Education to endorse the proposals for outdoor education contained in Defra’s White Paper.
The Countryside Alliance Foundation launched its report ‘Outdoor Education: the countryside as a classroom’ in 2010. The report highlighted the strong desire for outdoor learning among teachers and children, but also the continuing concerns about health and safety which can limit children’s access to the countryside.
Three quarters of teachers say that health and safety is the main barrier to school visits, but only 364 legal claims were made between 1998 and 2008 for injuries sustained by children, with under half resulting in payouts. On average only £293 of compensation was paid out each year by local authorities.
Visit The Countryside Alliance Foundation’s Countryside Investigators interactive website and teaching resource